It’s a sign of the times that when we talk about what it means to have a “secure” business, we’re talking mostly about online security, and with good reason. Cyber attacks cost businesses across all sizes and types $200,000 on average when they happen. That’s enough damage to put many small startup and family stores right out of business. Thankfully, there are simple measures that any business owner or manager can take to stave off the worst of these online assaults. Here are 5 measures you can take to keep your business safe.
1. Keep Financial Transactions Secure
Digital financial transactions are all but unavoidable, especially for a business that makes most of its money selling online. Unfortunately, this is where many companies are at their least secure. One kind of attack called “phishing” involves an attacker setting up a payment website that only looks legitimate, hoping that you’ll be fooled into handing over your information. Check that the URL of any payment website is the official one for that company and never open any emails from sources that you don’t recognize. Also, make sure that any credit cards that your business uses are kept solely for company use. Often simply getting credit approval can be an issue for new startups. A solution can be to use a secured credit card. This is just like a normal credit card, except that it uses your own money as collateral, with that money returned to you if you close your account. If you have poor or no credit, this can actually help to build your credit reputation.
2. Install Antivirus Software on All Devices
This is a cheap and simple protocol to have in place to protect against malicious programs like worms and viruses. Many antivirus companies offer free versions of their software, and the risk of losing data to an attack makes it a worthy investment at almost any price. It’s a good idea to have a firewall in place to monitor web traffic coming to and leaving your business as well. Don’t forget to install the same quality defenses on every device connected to your business, including those omnipresent smartphones.
3. Back up Your Data
One costly mistake that many businesses make is not backing up vulnerable data. A Verizon study suggested that a small data breach involving 100 files could cost an organization between $18,120 and $35,730. Many times, this cost is dependent upon a timely response to the breach by the company as well as whether or not the data is recovered. Surprisingly, the leading cause of data loss isn’t human greed but system failure. Hard drive crashes and power outages make up a majority of data loss incidents. Make sure to back up your data on a regular schedule and in multiple ways; having a backup online and on a physical storage device like a flash drive is optimal.
4. Use Hackers to Fight Hackers
It takes one to know one. This turn of phrase describes the “ethical hacking” profession perfectly. Many individuals who are capable of causing havoc online are turning their skills towards protecting the public from cyber criminals. Hiring someone to hack your system may seem odd, but it’s often the only way to actually find the weaknesses that criminal hackers would exploit. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re not a cyber security pro. Leverage expert advice whenever you can.
5. Remember Physical Security
In the internet age, physical security systems often get overlooked. This goes beyond just locking doors. Employees must be trained in proper security protocols such as never writing down or disposing of sensitive information such as passwords. Cyber criminals are more than willing to do a little “dumpster diving” to find your company’s valuable records. If you have the money, seek out more advanced security measures like biometrics to expand your defense repertoire.
With the technology powering cyber attacks getting more sophisticated, you might feel helpless against this growing threat. Remember that the countermeasures available are just as advanced, and take it upon yourself to research the ins and outs of keeping your business safe.