5 Ways to Safeguard Your Business Against Hackers

If you think your business is in no danger of getting hacked, you’re probably wrong. We’re all painfully aware that big companies aren’t immune. Between December 2013 and November 2014, Sony, Home Depot, JPMorgan, eBay, and Target had over 440 MILLION total records stolen by hackers. The data stolen in these attacks included proprietary information, employee details, credit card numbers, email addresses, physical addresses, and login credentials.1

Keyborad IllitstationHowever, it’s not just huge corporations that are at risk. According to a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association, 44% of small businesses have been hacked as well. 2 One of your responsibilities as a business owner is to protect your company data, your employee’s data, and your customer’s data. To that end, I’ve put together a brief list of 5 ways to safeguard your business against hackers.

1. Encrypt Your Data

There are actually various federal and state laws regarding the encryption of confidential business data that you need to adhere to, but it’s also just good sense. If a hacker or computer thief does manage to access your encrypted files, they’ll receive streams of seemingly stochastic characters rather than understandable data. Modern encryption programs provide government-grade protection, using algorithms to create ciphers that are practically uncrackable.

2. Implement a Firewall

A firewall is a device or program that is specially configured to block or prevent unauthorized access to a network. It can be created using hardware, software, or a combination of the two. When properly implemented, it creates a barrier to keep destructive elements out of a specific computer or an entire network. Their filters can be configured using different variables including domain name, protocol, IP address, port, or specific phrases or words. Some OSs and many Internet routers can be configured to provide firewall protection.

3. Understand and Utilize Password Security

Many people use the same password for all of their accounts; this is not a safe practice, especially in a business setting. Passwords are supposed to help keep your information secure, so strong passwords are critical. Use these best practices to help keep your passwords as secure as possible:

  • Always change default passwords as soon as you can.
  • Have a different password for every account.
  • Create long, complex passwords that aren’t easily cracked – use a mix of UPPER- and lower-case letters, numb3rs, and speci@l characters for added security.
  • Change all of your passwords every 3 to 6 months.
  • Use a password manager – unique, strong passwords can be difficult to remember, especially if you change them frequently. Using a password manager like LastPass can help you create and utilize strong passwords more easily.

4. Utilize Antivirus and Antimalware Software

No matter how careful you may be, you’re likely to encounter a nasty Internet virus or malicious piece of malware or spyware at some unfortuitous moment. A good antivirus program is invaluable to your company’s security. However, many antivirus programs aren’t very good at detecting or protecting against malware. Therefore, you should also install a strong antimalware program like Malwarebytes. Keep these programs up-to-date and run them regularly in order to protect yourself and your company’s data.

5. Update Your OS and Other Software Regularly

While constant program updates are tedious at best, they are a necessary evil. OS and software manufacturers upgrade security safeguards on a frequent basis. Setting up your programs to automatically update allows them to install security patches as soon as they are available. This keeps would-be hackers from exploiting those weaknesses that the new security patch addresses.

Your company’s data needs to be protected. Implementing these safeguards can help protect you and your business from those with malicious intent. Additionally, your customers trust you to safeguard any data you have collected about them. Repay that trust by taking every precaution possible to protect their data, and yours, from hackers.

1 http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2014-data-breaches/
2 http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/10/12/small-business-hacking-dangers/17041613/