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Easy Steps To Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Threats

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According to Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report for 2017, small businesses were the target of phishing scams and other cyber attacks 43% of the time; an increase of 9 percent from 2014. While your company may not handle customer's sensitive financial information, you want to ensure that your website and servers that hold company information are safe from cyber attacks and theft.  We understand that not everyone has the ability to hire a cyber assessment team and the good news it, you don't have to. 
Symantec's 2017 Internet Security Threat Report
Small Business Trends recently published a list of 10 things small businesses can do to protect their assets from digital attacks. Go through the following list to make sure you are doing all you can to keep your information and your customer's information safe and secure! 
  1. Back Up Your Data--backing up your data is more important than ever, especially with new government regulations. Information in the form of e-mails, documents, presentations, databases, graphics, audio files and spreadsheets is the lifeblood of most businesses. If you don't deal in big data, consider having an external hard drive that you can use regularly to back up information or even a jump drive to keep your "documents" safe. With Cloud Computing you might be tempted to save all of your data in the Cloud but this isn't always the best option, especially for small businesses. Repetition is key to secure data back up. 
  2. Use The Phone--When you are dealing with sensitive information, consider picking up the phone and using older technology that doesn't put that information out there in cyberspace.
  3. Manage Your Passwords--It is hard to remember all of the passwords we have to have nowadays, but this is paramount in keeping your company information safe. There are several password keeping programs (PC Mag's best of 2017) out there to choose from that can help you manage all the different passwords and keep updating them to keep you secure. If there are not that many to remember, consider keeping your business passwords written down and secured in the company safe or a lockbox. Any cyber security professional will also warn you NOT to enable auto fill on your computer or save methods of payment with vendors or service providers.
  4. Update Your Software--Out of date software (especially website hosting software such as WordPress) creates vulnerabilities for your business online. Make sure you have automatic updates enabled or that you set a regular time and date to check for and download updates. 
  5. Stay Informed--Stay current on industry news and trends so that you can plan and adjust for any new security threats or vulnerabilities. Also, keep anti-virus and malware software updated as well with the latest definitions as new viruses are created daily. 
  6. Utilize Firewalls--Firewalls are either hardware or software that create a barrier against attacks from hackers, viruses, and worms. If your company computer is connected to the internet, you are a potential target for an array of cyber threats such as hackers, keyloggers, and Trojans. A firewall will prevent entry of these treats into your network. 
  7. Apply SSL--If you sell product or deal with private consumer information on your company website, you should strongly consider applying this extra "gold standard" layer of security to your site. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encrypts sensitive data such as credit card information and social security information and gives consumers greater confidence in doing business with you. 
  8. Protect Your Wireless Network--If you network configuration is Greek to you, you can easily recruit a tech savvy friend or hire a network professional to do this for you. Basically, when you use a router to broadcast out the internet signal to the computers in your office, it's broadcasting out the name of your network to others as well. Simple defenses such as changing the router's generic name from say, Linksys Router to a more personalized name is safer. Follow up on PC Magazine's tips on securing the W-Fi network even more. 
  9. Scan Now--Conduct regular virus and malware scans on your network. This can be set up on a schedule and should be run daily. Be careful about what virus and malware software you download and from where. FileHippo (www.filehippo.com) is a safe place to find all manner of free virus and malware software for personal and professional use. And as stated before, make sure you set these programs for automatic updates. 
  10. Ask An Expert--Still confused or maybe you just don't have the time, consider requesting a consult with a professional. Check out the Chamber's Computer Networking Listing. 
If you'd be interested in having the Chamber offer a basic workshop on Internet security for your small business, email Tina at twolfe@mcdowellchamber.com or call the office at 828.652.4240.
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