The costs experienced by U.S. businesses from cyberattacks each year has reached $140 billion, Forbes reports. Every business needs to protect their digital assets, but the small business owner may not have the budget or human power for sophisticated cybersecurity . These tips will help any business, including the smallest, prevent computer attacks.
Implement Better Passwords
One of the favorite, and easiest ways, cyber criminals break into companies is by guessing passwords. People still use “weak” passwords for their logins. These passwords are easiest to break and are often made up of pieces of personal information, such as:
Passwords derived from this information are not only easy to remember, but they’re also easier for cyber thieves to crack. To slow down or prevent break-ins, implement mandatory strong passwords. These consists of a random mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. The password “d1#F0&x4″ is much harder for a thief to guess than “Janice12.”
Educate Your Staff
Training your staff is a key way to prevent cyberattacks, because your employees are one way unwanted viruses, malware and spyware get into your system. People receive unfamiliar emails from outside of the company and open them. They save email attachments to the system and run them. The P2P file sharing threat is there, as people connect with other systems and exchange files. The more your staff knows about these dangers, the more careful they can be.
Accessing unfamiliar websites also puts the company at risk with the various ways hackers can use them to break into your system. Teach your staff about the latest hacking, phishing and malware techniques, so they can be on the lookout for suspicious sites. For example, sites with expired security certificates should never be accessed, unless an IT person first checks the site for authenticity. These can be pirate sites that will try to load malware onto your computer if you access it.
A Little Protection Is Better Than None
Make sure each computer has a virus protection program running on it with regularly scheduled scans. These programs need to check websites accessed, files downloaded from websites, incoming email and any attachments to the emails. These programs can be free or cost hundreds of dollars. Any protection is better than none, so even the most frugal small business can implement something on its computers.
Encrypt Your Data
Protecting your company’s information as it moves across the Internet is just as important as protecting it within your system. The use of data encryption keeps your data unreadable as it goes out of the company. Cyber thieves who use packet-sniffing techniques may be able to collect your data, but they can’t read it. You can encrypt the data on your hard disks, or in the cloud, as well. Software encryption programs are available to encrypt almost any type of data in your business.
The Personal Device Dilemma
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model opens businesses up to more risk from cyber attacks. People enjoy using their own laptops, smartphones and tablets to do their jobs, but you will need to impose some controls to keep your company safe. A mobile device management (MDM) solution allows different devices to access your computer system. But it also monitors their activity, controls their access to company information and restricts the types of applications used.
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LEXINGTON, Ky., (Feb. 14, 2017) – Kentucky Small Business Development Center is seeking nominations for the 2017 Pacesetter Awards. The recognition program was created to honor high performing, second-stage businesses that are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape. The deadline to submit nominations is March 15.
KSBDC encourages small businesses that meet the following minimum qualifications to apply:
· Privately held
· In business for three or more years
· Employ six or more full-time employees, including the owner
· Annual sales meet or exceed $500,000
· Located and headquartered in Kentucky
·Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow evidenced by the judging criteria.
Pacesetters will be selected based on two or more of the following criteria:
· Growth in the number of employees
·Increase in sales and/or unit volume
· Innovativeness of the product or service
·Response to adversity
·Employee engagement and commitment
·Contributions by the nominee to aid community-oriented projects
Pacesetters will be recognized at the Kentucky Celebrates Small Business event held at the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort during the first week of May. Each honoree will receive an award inscribed with the business’s name and a promotional video for their own use that highlights the business. In addition, KSBDC will send a customized press release announcing the award to local media and trade associations. Honorees are given the rights to use the Kentucky Pacesetter logo and event photographs in promoting their business.
Anyone may submit nominations, including third parties associated with an eligible second-stage business. A business may self-nominate by completing the required form. Winners will be notified by March 27. Full nomination requirements and the application are online at https://www.ksbdc.org/kentucky-pacesetters1 .
The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on KSBDC services can be found on their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .
Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-0104
UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.