Do you take IT security seriously? If you’re like many small business people, you probably don’t think much about it. Here’s a word to the wise: Take it seriously. Losing sensitive business data or having it stolen while in your charge can be your worst nightmare come true. It can not only cost you thousands in fines and lost business, it also can threaten the long-term survival of your business.
Think you’re too small to get hacked? Wrong. Your business data is valuable whether you have five clients or 50,000. Hackers can get as much as $300 for a single credit card or Social Security number. These prices make every business fair game for hackers. What’s more, you’re ultimately responsible for any client or customer data you have—even if the data is lost or stolen through an employee’s negligence.
Below are six common IT security mistakes that small businesses make. Eliminating them will lessen the chances of a cyber criminal hacking your computer system:
Using Weak Passwords
Weak passwords are like an open invitation to cyber criminals to access your computer. Once these criminals get past your password, they can steal both your identity and your data, creating a major nightmare for you and your business. To strengthen your passwords make them longer than seven characters and use a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Failing to Install Security Patches
Many small businesses fail to install security patches promptly. Sometimes, they fail to install them altogether. That’s not smart. Failing to install security patches leaves your computer vulnerable to attack. Make sure you install security patches as soon as possible.
Not Updating Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is on the front lines of computer security defense. If you fail to update it, you’re making yourself easy prey to hackers looking to disrupt. Once a virus seeps into your computer, it can cause considerable damage. So don’t forget to update your antivirus software.
Improperly Configuring Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is great. But you can’t always confirm Wi-Fi security. So when you access the Internet at your favorite coffee shop, you could be connecting to a hacker’s network instead of the shop’s Wi-Fi network. Look for an orange RJ45 jack. Since it’s a physical connection, you know you’re connecting to the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi network and not to some cybercriminal’s.
Weak Mobile Security
If you’re like many small businesses, you’re using a laptop, tablet, and mobile phone to conduct business. You can easily lose these devices or have them stolen. Cybercriminals can even steal your data when it’s in transit.
So encrypt your data. Even if cyber criminals steal your data, they can’t read it without the key. And data encryption software isn’t that expensive.
Not Securing the Cloud
The Cloud is a godsend when it comes to small businesses. It levels the playing field against bigger, more formidable competitors. It increases their productivity. And it helps them grow and prosper. But it comes at a price. Not all the Cloud services that cater to small businesses are as secure as they should be.
Take Google and Yahoo. These free services don’t provide a level of encryption and security that today’s compliance laws mandate for the healthcare and financial service industries. So if you’re working in these industries and using these Cloud services, that’s a problem. Check out your Cloud services provider’s security level first before using it.
All businesses need to take IT security seriously. Chances are good you have sensitive data on your clients or customers the hackers would love to have. Eliminating the six IT security mistakes discussed above does three things. It strengthens your computer’s system defense. It decreases the chances you’ll get hacked. And it helps protect the sensitive data on your computer—data you’re ultimately responsible for safeguarding. Failing to protect this data could put you out of business.