Hacking into personal accounts and stealing your identity has been a growing problem for years, but with small business growth and on-line technology – it is even more important to be diligent in keeping sensitive data safe. It should be understood that no system is totally foolproof because given enough time and money; any system can be broken into. The trick is to make it challenging enough that any potential thief will seek easier prey.
Below are few ways to secure sensitive information and protect your business network from theft or computer viruses that can cripple your business.
- Scammers are getting savvier by the day and it is getting more difficult for the average person to distinguish the real deal from the fake. It is for this reason to avoid incoming calls and emails. It is highly advised for businesses to contact a company directing using the information from their web site.
- We often hear the phrase “we live in a paperless society”; however, many times financial information that is sent electronically will be printed to hard copy for a number of reasons. When this is required, it is strongly recommended that the paper be shredded once it is no longer needed.
- Passwords are your first line of defense; therefore, change them often and don’t make them easy to guess. Also, it is advised not to use the same passwords for all accounts because if one account is comprised, they all will not be. Also, avoid common letter and combination such as your birthday or name of your pet. Additionally, it is a major security mistake not to immediately change a password when a new machine or software is first installed.
- Work only at secure locations. These days, more than 50% of employees work out the office. Many employees conduct business enjoying their favorite latte at a public Wi-Fi location such as a local coffee house, but are these types of locations really secure? They might be fine for searching for a trending restaurant to entertain clients, but for viewing and transferring financial information for your business? Think twice.
- Using secure portals is another layer of security that will protect your identity and may be necessary for your small to medium sized business because email accounts are often hacked to obtain personal information such as social security number and bank account numbers.
- Wherever your financial information is housed, set up a “two-factor authentication” as this will increase the protection of your business and personal funds. Learn more about financial situations which may require extra security at equities.com.
- Keep your eyes open and regularly monitor your accounts (at least once a week) to make sure that no suspicious activity has taken place.
- Track log in / log off activity on all business based computers, as this will help to pin point where a breach or computer virus begins.
- Always keep servers updated. Servers require regular updates because they have the most up-to-date features as well as the latest security patches. The difference between an old and updated server is a clean one free of virus and/or breaches and a one that may have been compromised by a hacker.
- In addition to keeping servers clean, it is also important to run an antivirus program on all your endpoints because it is very common for cyber attacker that want to hack your business to target the end points, because they are easier to penetrate especially if employees are not as careful with their online activity as the chief administrator.
- Conduct background checks on employees because the majority of unauthorized cyber “intrusions” occur from inside the network. Screen all potential employees – from the mail room personnel to executives. Dig deeper than just calling provided references and it is also advised to deny access to sensitive financial information until trust is established.
It can be a very daunting task keeping financial information secure on your business network, but by being proactive including putting a security protocol in place, training employees to follow protocol, and keeping all hardware and software updated, you can protect your company from a cybersecurity intrusion.