How to Prevent Cybercriminals from Attacking

TAccording to a 2013 Small Business Technology Survey that polled 845 small business owners across industries in the U.S., small businesses lost an estimated $8,700 as a result of a cyber attack. In addition, nearly half of all small business owners surveyed claimed to have at one time been the victim of a cyber attack. To protect yourself and your business from the unwanted costs (and headaches) that come from cyber attacks, follow the five recommendations outlined below: 

Keep Computers Updated

One simple way you can prevent cybercriminals from hacking into your systems and stealing sensitive information is to by making sure your company computers are up to date. Your computer manufacturur likely releases regular updates to your operating system. Often times these updates are released for the purpose of addressing security issues or weaknesses that have been found. In order to prevent cybercriminals from attacking your machines in order to steal sensitive information, always follow through with installing recommended updates to your operating system. You should also update your browsers and other plugins you use.

Use Strong Passwords 

As more and more sites continue to offer innovative ways for you to store information online, it’s becoming increasingly important to be proactive when it comes to keeping your accounts secure, and your personal information out of the hands of hackers and cybercriminals. When you create passwords for your business, you should always include the following four categories:

  • Uppercase letters (A,B,C)
  • Lowercase letters (a,b,c)
  • Numbers (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  • Symbols found on the keyboard (~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ – + = { } [ ] | : ; ” ‘ < > , . ? /)

Educate Your Staff

In a Forbes article on small business cyber attacks, author George Westerman write the following, “internet security is not just a technology problem; it’s a people problem. According to CyberFactors, in-house employees commit about 40% of reported breaches. Some are disgruntled workers or ex-workers; some are serious bad guys. But often it’s people doing things they don’t even know are unsafe.” According to the article, Westerman recommends doing the following in order prevent cybercriminals from attacking your small business:

  1. Train your employees on IT risk. 
  2. Create clear and simple company policies regarding technology.
  3. Put somebody in charge of security. 

To learn more about each of these recommendations, click here.

Install Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is software used to prevent, detect and remove malware such as: computer viruses, malicious BHOs, hijackers, ransomware, keyloggers, backdoors, rootkits, trojan horses, worms, malicious LSPs, dialers, fraudtools, adware and spyware. As a business owner, it’s crucial that you invest in antivirus software for your computer computers. Antivirus software is especially essential for computers that have sensitive client account information on them. For a list of the best antivirus software tools of 2013, click here.

Hire a Security Consultant To Determine How Secure Your Business Is

Another way you can prevent cybercriminals or hackers from attacking your small business is by hiring an IT or cyber security consultant to evaluate how secure your business is. These security specialists can perform a security audit for you, tell you where your vulnerabilities are, and make recommendations on how to make improvements. As more and more hackers continue to develop clever ways to access private data and steal sensitive information from businesses, more and more companies are hiring security consultants and white-hat hackers (i.e. the ones who know how to hack, but use their skills to help make businesses more secure) to help improve security infrastructure.

Stay Informed

One of the biggest ways you can prevent cybercriminals from attacking your small business is by simply being informed. You should be regularly educating yourself on cyber security issues as they relate to small business. By doing so, you can work to constantly improve your security based on what you learn from other businesses who are dealing with the same security issues as you. You can stay informed by reading small business blogs, looking for articles about cybercriminals and how they operate, and downloading timely reports that offer helpful, up-to-date data on cyber attacks.

Conclusion 

As mentioned in the opening of this article, according to research, small businesses can lose an estimated $8,700 as a result of a cyber attack. As a business owner, it’s your job to be proactive when it comes to preventing cybercriminals and hackers from attacking your small business. You can get started by following the recommendations outlined above. What other tips do you have for business owners like you who understand the importance of keeping sensitive data out of the hands of cybercriminals and want to start developing and implementing more effective protection strategies? Leave a comment below!