Business owners who run brick-and-mortar retail shops know a thing or two about general, physical security. They most likely have strong locks on the doors after closing time, hire security guards to patrol the premises several times per evening, and use advanced alarm systems to alert the police if there is a break-in.
The biggest threat to business owners in today’s world comes not from burglars and robbers but from cyber attackers. At least half of all small businesses have suffered at the hands of a cyber-attack or major data hack since they opened their doors, and the problem is getting worse, click here for more information.
Modern thieves want data, passwords, account numbers, employee files, account details, competitor profiles, customer information and virtually anything you, the business owner, has in a data bank on your system or in cloud storage locations. What is the best way to secure that data and make certain that evil forces don’t get their hands on it?
The following three techniques are considered by many cyber-security experts as the top ways to prevent unwarranted use of private company data. Here’s a quick look at each method.
1. Use Password Managers
Train employees to use password managers to make sure that company files stay safe. It’s easy for hackers to guess passwords that are short and poorly constructed. All it takes is one lost password for a data thief to gain entry to dozens of related files and otherwise secure corporate files.
Password managers are simple and inexpensive apps that, with a single-entry code, allow anyone to create highly complex and nearly unbreakable passwords. Typically, a good password manager will spit out longish pass-phrases that contain truly randomized strings of upper-case, lower-case, numeric and symbol-based pass-phrases for every different account. These clever apps are also capable of changing passwords frequently, which makes life that much harder for cyber crooks.
2. Use 2-Step Verification
Encourage workers to use 2-step verification for site entry. Two-step processes rely on a standard password for step one and a verified second step like a pass code that’s sent to the employees’ phone. To steal passwords in this system, the thief would need both the original password and the employee’s phone.
3. Educate Employees About Cyber-Security
It’s useful to train every new worker, during the on-boarding process, about cyber security. In addition to the use of a password manager, new hires should learn the basics of how to avoid phishing scams, which can trick them into visiting risky websites or clicking on links that redirect them into dangerous online locations. Each new employee should also be taught how to spot common online scams in your particular industry.
What Do Thieves Like to Steal?
Many people think that cyber criminals are only after bank account data and go straight for monetary transfers out of your account and into theirs. That’s not the case. There’s a long list of things on hackers’ wish lists, and banking data is not even near the top. Here are some of the top data types that online thieves hunt for:
-Medical Records If your company doesn’t want to run afoul of HIPAA rules, you’ll need to keep a close eye on any customer or employee medical files. Cyber crooks value this kind of information most of all, even more than credit card and banking information. Why?
Medical records include a wide variety of highly personal, private information that enables smart hackers to commit significant identity theft. When your credit card is stolen, you can simply call the hotline and freeze it. When your (or a client’s) medical file is taken by cyber thieves, it might be months before the crime is even discovered. By then, there’s no telling how much damage might have been done.
-Personal Emails Employees whose email accounts are compromised can be the source of massive corporate grief. Hackers can uncover a treasure trove of company tidbits including information about pay rates, insider corporate discussions and more.
-Customer Financial Data When hackers break into customer financial files, there can be major repercussions for the company, both legally and financially. That’s one reason thieves love this sort of data so much: they often hold it for ransom or simply sell it to unethical competitors who would love to get a look at your firm’s customer profiles and more.
-Passwords of All Kinds Passwords were once the most-stolen bit of company data but have recently been supplanted by other items. Still, cyber ne’er-do-wells still get plenty of use from your passwords. In many cases, they use them to access medical records, customer financial data and workers’ personal email accounts.
-Corporate Meeting Notes The dark web is a black market of ill-gotten cyber goods, and private corporate notes are near the top of the list. Not only do these golden information nuggets reveal marketing plans and financial goals, they often contain insider stock market information that fetch big bucks on the dark web.
-Tax Files Accounting and other financial firms are at risk here. Client tax files contain some of the most sensitive, and marketable, information in the world of cybercrime. That’s why thieves who can get their hands-on tax returns can make a handsome profit.
Final Thoughts on Business Security
Depending on your company’s size, there are literally hundreds of ways to block cyber-attacks and hacks. Consider consulting an expert to find the best set of security tools for your unique situation. Some companies are more at risk than others, of course, but it’s imperative for even the smallest, newest entities to take pro-active steps to keep their data safe and sound.
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