In the past, hackers were viewed as mostly harmless. In the 80s and 90s, they primarily targeted sites for pride, and they would brag to each other about the sites that they had hacked. Today, however, hackers are often interested in creating havoc or stealing information that they can sell. As a result, any business that is hacked stands to lose a great deal, including their customers' trust if their particular information is stolen. Fortunately, by being proactive and employing some common sense security practices, the likelihood of company data being stolen can be greatly reduced. Here are a few ways to protect your small business from online thieves and hackers.
Use Strong Passwords
Many hackers go for the low-hanging fruit. Instead of spending hours or days trying to hack into a single secure website, they will simultaneously target as many secure websites and servers as possible in the hopes of finding one that is easy to crack open. One of the ways they do this is to look for weak passwords. Instituting a strong password policy is often enough to avoid a potentially costly hack. Your secure websites and file servers need to be locked down with very strong passwords. Your employees need to be made aware of the importance of strong passwords and of your company’s password policy. Use the following link as a reference about password policies and creating strong passwords: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_strength
Update Your Software
Another way hackers gain easy access into computer networks is to look for a computer with a known security flaw. Microsoft, Adobe, and others employ teams of hackers to find security holes in their software. Fixes, or patches, to these holes are issued regularly, and the importance of applying these patches cannot be overstated because news about security holes travels very quickly within the hacker community. For Windows users, make sure that your computers are set up to automatically download and apply all critical Microsoft patches as they are issued
Watch Out For Internal Hacks
A growing trend among hackers is to target employees and offer them incentives to steal company information. The initial thinking is that all of your employees can be trusted implicitly, but the reality is that internal breaches happen more often than you might think. So be a little paranoid and proactive—only give individual employees passwords and access to the information that they actually need to do their jobs; change those passwords regularly, especially when a key person leaves the business under unhappy circumstances; and keep all important data off employee computers and stored on a secure file server.
Backup Your Important Data
If the worst happens, be prepared to rebuild if your data is compromised. Be sure to always backup your important and sensitive data regularly. And, in addition to the in-house copy, it’s imperative that you maintain an off-site copy in case your in-house copy is stolen.
The cost of having important or sensitive data stolen can be very high, and those affected often have to close down or deal with the fallout for years to come. But by being proactive and employing some common sense security techniques, you can go a long way to help protect your business from thieves and hackers.
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