As any small-business owner knows, a huge portion of any business's activities now take place online. Even if your business model is based on in-person interaction, you probably keep some portion of your organization's financial records or other private information on a computer system that could be a target for hackers.
Cybersecurity is an increasingly important part of being a small-business owner and is crucial to being safe on the internet. As the world moves into a more connected future, you must be sure your business's data is protected. This will help your business grow and thrive, and this ensures customers' private information remains secure.
Small businesses are at risk
Many small-business owners mistakenly think their organizations are not targets for data-hungry cyberattackers. While the massive cyberattacks against major corporations and banks make the national news, smaller incidents that hit vulnerable small businesses rarely get the same attention. That's unfortunate because it gives small-business owners a false sense of security.
About a third of all cyberattacks in 2012 occurred at businesses with fewer than 250 employees, according to a report from Symantec, and the number of cyberthreats has increased rapidly since that time. Businesses that fail to set up the necessary safeguards against cyberattacks are turning a blind eye to very real threats that could damage their company for years to come.
Employees are the first line of defense
All too often, security threats that affect small businesses come from within, and are the result of careless employees or a lack of effective cybersecurity policies governing employee behavior. Things as simple as weak employee passwords can be a huge problem when a business is the victim of a cyberattack, so owners need to implement comprehensive guidelines for password creation and computer use, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Forcing employees to use secure passwords that are updated regularly is part of the equation for effective digital security, but it's just small facet. Every computer on the network needs to be updated with the most current software and security features. This may represent a significant effort that requires small-business owners to employ a dedicated IT staff, but the effort will be worth it if it protects customer or business information.
Information sharing is critical
You can't defend against what you don't know about, and that's particularly true in the fast-changing world of online security. New cyberthreats regularly crop up, and a business needs to be sure that security systems are regularly updated to accommodate these new threats.
Business owners and IT professionals must stay up to date on the latest cyberthreats and should share information about any security breaches they encounter with the government and professionals at other companies, according to Network World. These efforts make people aware of impending threats and allow software providers to create solutions that will prevent threats from growing into serious problems.
Beware of mobile
Mobile devices are more important to computing than ever, but these pocket computers introduce a host of new security threats for employers. Because these devices can easily be misplaced, they can offer enterprising thieves an easy route into company data.
Businesses that allow employees to access company databases through mobile devices should create an action plan for securing data on mobile devices, according to the Federal Communications Commission. This plan should include actions that must be taken when a device goes missing or is stolen.
Cybersecurity is critical for businesses of all sizes, and a few simple steps can make all the difference when it comes to an organization's data integrity.
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