In 2016, there were a record number of data breaches, affecting more than 1,000 companies, which represents a 40 percent increase from 2015. Securing your business accounts and online assets should be a primary focus for business owners.
When running a business, it’s easy to remember to secure your brick and mortar doors and physical inventory, but how much thought do you give to digital inventory and assets? How many people have access to your website or hosting details? How do you store your passwords?
These are all details to consider as you look at ways to keep your company and client information protected.
Don’t Be Complacent
One of the biggest problems that digital security experts see is the complacent business owner, according to Omninet. Many mistakenly feel that, because they own a small business, hackers would not be interested in wasting time on accessing their records.
However, the truth is, hackers simply look for easy opportunities, regardless of how big or small your company is. Hackers want to find an easy in and if your digital assets are not secured, you’re actually their prime target.
Use a Password Manager
Passwords should never be repeated across different accounts—which can be a challenge when you realize that most passwords should also be long, with a minimum of eight characters, lower case and upper case letters, numbers, and a symbol or two. And how is someone supposed to remember a different password for each account when you can’t have the same password twice?
A password manager is your solution. Most work as a browser add-on, and will auto fill all login forms if you’ve saved the password for that site before. With one master password, everything else stays safe in your locked and private account.
The amount of insurance you need as a business owner can be dizzying, but this is important. To protect yourself in the case of a cyber attack, simply add “Cyber/Network Liability” to your policy:
“If a network goes down or private information is leaked and money is stolen from private accounts, Cyber/Network liability insurance will protect your assets,” according to a guide from USA Business Insurance.
You may already have this as part of your current package. Inquire with your agent and make changes as necessary. With the right protection you can avoid a potentially costly intrusion.
Limit Admin Access
It’s easy to give too many people access to your website and social sites—especially as a small business owner who needs to delegate to other people. While it’s challenging to avoid giving any passwords out, there are a few ways to mitigate this and make it more secure:
- Assign roles with online platforms: If you use a social scheduling tool, or other shared digital dashboards, simply give stakeholders access by adding them as users or admin. They will still need to create a strong password for their user account, but your main account is less likely to be compromised.
- Change passwords when employees leave. Even if they left on good terms, all login rights should be removed, or passwords changed, by the time they walk out the door.
Use 2-Step Verification
This security measure is highly recommended to keep your accounts secure because it provides a second security wall: “In instances where a remote login attempt is made, and in other circumstances as well, the user is prompted to not only enter the account’s login credentials but also a code generated via phone or text,” according to How to Protect Your Digital Identity.
Some platforms require an extra password, a code as mentioned above, or ask you to identify a photo that you’ve previously chosen. You may recall some of your current accounts, like those with your bank or other financial institutions, already require two-step authentication as an extra layer of protection.
To find instructions for setting this up, search “set up 2 factor authentication for [INSERT ACCOUNT/WEBSITE/PRODUCT]” and you’ll likely find a simple tutorial from the company or manufacturer.
Use Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus software is critical for the safety of your business: “Anti-virus software scans files or your computer’s memory for certain patterns that may indicate the presence of malicious software (i.e., malware). Anti-virus software (sometimes more broadly referred to as anti-malware software) looks for patterns based on the signatures or definitions of known malware,” explains US-Cert.gov.
As such, it’s your first line of defense and, thanks to automatic scans, will take much of the work off your plate. Check regularly for updates and malware notices, or set up notifications so you don’t have to remember to look.
Always Update Your Software
Updating your software is a simple task that takes less than 5 to 10 minutes—yet it’s something we put off for days, weeks or months at a time. This procrastination puts you and your business at risk, but luckily, the fix is easy: just do the update.
Andra Zaharia, with Heimdal Security explains that these updates are almost always related to security, improving issues with:
- Adobe Shockwave
- Adobe Flash (plug-in/player)
- Adobe Acrobat reader
- Google Chrome
- Mozilla Firefox
- Internet Explorer
- CCleaner and more.
Educate Your Staff
There’s only so much you can do to keep the business secure if you don’t have security policies and procedures in place for your employees. All employees should know how to protect the company’s sensitive data, including creating good passwords and keeping accounts private as necessary. Update employees about phishing scams, potential breaches, and more on a regular basis. This, along with standard security protocols, will go a long way to helping your sensitive data stay safe and protected.
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Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer and content marketing consultant. She’s written for LeadPages, Manta, StartupNation and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for money-saving ideas, health tips and more.