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If you have an online business, it’s not too much of an alarmist statement to say you’re under an all-out assault from cyber criminals. Right now. While, understandably, companies don’t love to talk about how their data has been compromised and money stolen, a growing picture is becoming clear – it’s like a return to the 1920’s and 1930’s when you couldn’t turn around without another bank being robbed in broad daylight from names like John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Baby Face Nelson. Except you’ll never see today’s criminal coming, and the only weapon he or she will need are fingers tapping on a keyboard. How can you protect your business from hackers gone wild? We’ll tell you.

Encrypt Data

It’s a wonder more businesses don’t take advantage of this idea. Most operating systems have a simple option that allows all data on a computer to be automatically encrypted. We’re talking about checking and/or credit card accounts, bank routing numbers, employee social security numbers, and more. This stuff is what hackers live for. If you have a Windows system, look for something called BitLocker. Mac systems designate it FileVault. You should call it a darn good idea. The catch is that the encryption kicks in only when a user logs out. This is a good reason to set all machines to automatically log the operator out after a set length of inactivity, say 10 minutes. A hacker can still compromise a machine while it’s active, but this is a start, right? 

Check Your Vendors

Do your vendors take cyber security seriously? For example, what security measures has your web host taken? If you don’t know, ask, and don’t be afraid to change if they seem to have adopted the ostrich approach of sticking their head in the ground and hoping for the best. The same goes for companies who might send invoices, receipts, or even catalogs by email. Suspicion is the name of the game here. Get very suspicious.  

Physical Security

Often overlooked is the idea that all cyber crime doesn’t happen from a distance. Another method of attack is to physically break into your office after hours and haul off servers, laptops, cell phones – whatever sort of electronics they can get their hands on – and take them back to their lair to hack at their leisure. For these types of brazen criminals, alarms activated by motion detectors might not be enough to scare them off. You need to figure out how to physically secure your hardware from a grab and run attack. A Kensington lock is an inexpensive way to secure a computer to a desk. Not foolproof but it’ll slow them down. Also consider rack-mounting servers so the whole thing is too big to carry off. Lastly, maybe you’ve heard of this – encryption!

Skip the Wi-Fi

Have you heard of wardriving? That’s when a hacker cruises around in a car with a powerful antenna looking for unsecured or poorly-secured networks. Once they get into a wireless network, it’s as good as inviting them in for a look around at your financial and personal data, passwords, etc. The best way to avoid this is to not have a wireless network. We can already hear the chorus of boos in the background. Operate without a wireless network? Why, you might as well return to the days of abacus computing and writing on papyrus. It’s a fact. A wired network is infinitely more secure. At the very least, cloak the name of your network so it can’t be seen without knowing exactly what it’s called.

Block Malware and Viruses

At this point in time, reminding a business to install anti-malware and anti-virus protection sounds about as helpful as reminding someone to breathe. If only it were such a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it’s a daily occurrence that businesses lose the battle to hackers because they didn’t take the simple precaution of creating a first line of defense. Cyber crooks spend a lot of time and effort figuring out how to sneak malware into your system. This is malicious software that hums away happily in the background recording keystrokes and login information and sending it to the bad guys. An overwhelming percentage of these kinds of attacks can be thwarted by simply installing a firewall and good anti-virus measures.

Employees are Your Allies

Don’t fight this battle alone. All too often, malware is introduced into a business network by a careless or ignorant employee falling for the latest phishing or spear phishing scam. That fantasy football email that circulated during lunch wasn’t really from Bob in accounting but rather from Bob the hacker sitting in his underwear a thousand miles away. Click on the link it contains and you let the malware in. This is why educating employees about specific threats and implementing guidelines for safe computer use should be a priority. But they can only help if you tell them what to do.

The Bottom Line

Once malware is on your system, you’re toast. This is the number one money-generating tactic by bad guys. From the moment it is activated, any website you visit that requires a login is compromised. We’re talking Facebook, PayPal, online banking, Amazon. If this doesn’t scare you yet, you haven’t been paying attention. Of course, the actions discussed aren’t everything you can do to protect your business from cyber miscreants, but it’s a good start.

About

My name is Brian and I’m a Graduate of Business Administration Marketing. I work full time in Sales and Marketing. I am also the owner of Blog Engage a social network I created specifically for bloggers. Come and join us on Blog Engage

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