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Published On: Mon, Jul 3rd, 2017

7 Best Practices Small Businesses Must Adopt Against Security Breaches

Instances of security breaches and information leaks where large companies are the “Target” easily make the headlines. You’ll hear of the millions of dollars in losses incurred by the companies and the damages they ended up paying. However, in recent times, a new realization is emerging. Small businesses employing fewer than 100 employees are the victims of 71% of cyber crimes.

Chairman of the Small Business Committee, Steve Chabot warns, ““The American government, American businesses, and Americans themselves are attacked over the Internet on a daily basis. Sometimes they know, sometimes they don’t. These attacks come from criminal syndicates, “hacktivists,” and foreign nations. They’re after intellectual property, bank accounts, Social Security numbers, and anything else that can be used for financial gain or a competitive edge. But the majority of cyber-attacks happen at small businesses.”

In a scenario where attacks by cyber criminals are an omnipresent threat, small businesses must adopt effective practices to safeguard their digital systems from security breaches. Here are a few of the steps prudent entrepreneurs and small business owners must take.

photo/Darwin Laganzon

1. Educate Yourself on the Nuances of Security Breaches

Develop a clear understanding about what data breaches are, how they occur, and the possible internal and external sources of information leaks. Hire the services of expert IT security personnel who can help you identify the weak spots where hackers can break into your digital systems. Cyber criminals use a range of highly advanced strategies to penetrate your security. By understanding how these strategies work, you’ll have a better chance of intercepting the attacks that include phishing, identity theft, hacking, pharming, and introducing malware.

2. Institute Protocols that Include Every Tier of the Company Workforce

With the advice of your IT security team, establish detailed protocols for obtaining, managing, and using customer information. Train your employees in all tiers of the organization to look out for warning signs of a digital break-in and the proper steps to take if they suspect an intrusion. Purchase and assign economical refurbished laptops, cellphones, desktops, and tablets to your employees for company operations. Install protective applications to secure each device and introduce a standard operating procedure for their usage that all employees must follow.

photo/pexels

3. Enforce the Rule of Using Strong Passwords

According to the results of research conducted by the Keeper Security and Ponemon Institute, 65% of small businesses revealed that they did not insist on compliance with the company password policy. This fact is unfortunate since passwords are the simplest form of defense against security breaches. Make sure that all passwords are generated using robust software. Use this strategy so that employees do not inadvertently add family names and dates important to them to set passwords that hackers can easily crack. Enforce the rule that all passwords must be changed at regular intervals like say, every 60 or 90 days. Each password must contain a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, signs, numbers, and symbols.

4. Use Only Updated Operating Systems

The latest of operating systems include anti-virus software, firewalls, and other protection against security breaches. In case you’re using Windows, you’ll receive alerts from time to time about the updates that can keep your computers secure. However, if you’re using any other kind of operating systems, search for and install the security patches as defense against hackers. Since cyber criminals are constantly developing sophisticated methods of breaking into your network, you’ll also need the latest of technology to deter their attempts.

photo/ Jan Alexander

5. Replace the System of Emails by Phone Calls

If your employees need to verify and complete a financial transaction for a customer, vendor, worker, or business partner, encourage them to use the phone for confirmations in place of emails. Having a two-step verification process is another helpful layer of security to ensure that payments are being made to the right recipient.

6. Employ Strict Plan of Action Measures

Make sure every employee knows how to act in case a security breach occurs. You could also undertake mock drills to test your systems and employees’ level of preparedness for attacks. Regular exercises will help you identify the weak links so you can better protect the company systems.

7. Get Relevant Cyber Security Insurance

Cyber security insurance can help you recover the losses you might incur in the event a security breach takes place. Companies like Travelers that provide cyber insurance offer you a range of coverage depending on the industry where you work, and the range and scope of your operations. They also assess the kind of customer information you store and manage and the risks associated with the loss.

In addition to assessing and covering your losses, such companies may conduct a detailed evaluation of the measures you have in place for protecting the company systems and advise you on the further steps you can take. Work with your insurance broker to understand the different types of first-party and third-party coverage and choose a workable combination that best meets the budget constraints and other needs of your business.

Statistics have revealed that security breaches have the potential to result in the closing down of up to 60% of the companies that incur the leak. Protect your small business from the possibility of such attacks by instituting the best of security practices listed above.

Author: Saroj Aggarwal

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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  1. 7 Best Practices Small Businesses Must Adopt Against Security Breaches – Retail Network Security Solutions says:

    […] Read the source article at The Global Dispatch […]

    • Jake says:

      To make the claim that passwords should follow policy to create strong security is blind to the everyday lives of employees. An average person has different username / passwords to dozens of sites, and to ask them to not only use upper/lower case, numbers, symbols, and a drop of blood is just asking for them to write down passwords on a Post-It note and sticking it on their laptop. It’s the reason that over 3 BILLION user-IDs / passwords were stolen in 2016.

      Why not look at attacking the problem in a different way? The FIDO Alliance has created and open and scalable means of authenticating that lets your employees leave this kind of burden behind.

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