6 Precautions Every Online Business Owner Must Take
Posted on December 10, 2013
The Internet has revolutionized the way business is done today. Gone are the days of brick and mortar stores; if your business isn’t online, you can’t hope to compete in today’s market. While there are many benefits to taking your business online, there are some serious drawbacks, one of the most frightening being Cyber Attacks. According to a 2013 study, cyber crime was estimated to cost up to $100 billion dollars annually. Cyber crime affects millions of people every day, and creates a new set of challenges and obstacles for those who take their business online. With a few simple precautions, however, you can protect your business.
The best place for any business to start their online security ramp-up is by utilizing strong passwords. A good, secure password contains a combination of capital letters, numbers, and symbols, making it difficult for someone to guess or generate the correct code. Simple phrases and personal information, while easier to remember and recite, should be avoided at all costs. Finally, make sure your passwords are set to expire every 60 to 90 days. This will keep hackers on their toes and out of your business.
Secure Company Devices
Many companies issue their employees personal electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and even tablets. While this makes doing work from anywhere in the world possible, it can also pose a threat to the online safety of your company. If your employees have a company provided device, encrypting this equipment is a must for proper online security. This software will protect your information in the event of lost or stolen property.
Antivirus and Firewalls
If you’ve spent any time around computers, you will have no doubt heard these terms thrown around. Antivirus software will prevent against any harmful malware or viruses that can corrupt, whereas firewalls help control the flow of Internet traffic that comes into your network. These are crucial in preventing malicious viruses from getting onto your network and wrecking havoc.
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Like with most things in life, having a backup plan is always a smart idea not matter the situation. First, make sure your servers are being backed up on an external hard drive on at least a bi-weekly basis. This will prevent you from losing necessary documents and business functions in case of disaster. The second and equally important backup plan is an outline for employees and corporate functions. This will ensure, in case of cyber attacks, that business as usual will occur with little to no down time.
Even with the most expensive software and intricate systems in place, these things will be little help if your employees don’t know the basics of Internet safety protocol. Start by asking your employees a simple yet important question: What is phishing? Gage your employee’s knowledge, make sure they understand the importance of online safety and the role it plays in the company’s success. If possible, try to hold monthly trainings and seminars on safe Internet usage and best practices to better protect themselves and the company.
The last and most important step to online security is diligent monitoring. Employees clicking shady links and downloading unauthorized programs are two of the most common ways a business makes themselves vulnerable. Make sure you always know what is happening online, what sites your employees are going to and how they spend their time online. Blocking potentially dangerous sites along with installing security alerts is a great way to prevent any data leaks or any other security breach.
Cyber crime is an ever-changing, evolving practice that is becoming more prevalent and destructive everyday. Criminals are getting smarter, and as long as there’s business to be done online, there will be a constant struggle with fraudsters and hackers. These precautions, however, coupled with a little knowledge and determination, you can protect yourself and your company from falling prey to an online cyber attack. What methods does your company utilize to prevent any possible cyber attacks, and have they been successful? Leave a comment below.