Cybersecurity is the act of securing cyberspace. This includes working to protect internet-connected systems, including software, hardware, and data. As a small business owner, you probably rely heavily on your technology. This includes everything from credit card processing and cloud-based software to email services and maintaining a website. Every aspect of your business can be affected by cybercrime. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the theft of digital information has become the most commonly reported fraud, surpassing physical theft.
Many small businesses feel that they will not be targeted because their business is not a major corporation. This is not the case, larger businesses are doing more to protect themselves in cyberspace leaving fewer opportunities causing cybercriminals to target less secure smaller businesses. As technology has progressed, business owners can no longer afford to leave themselves unprotected. Here are a few tips to help protect against cyber-attacks.
Train your employees in basic security principles. It is important that an employee understands basic procedures that can help secure your network. An example of this would be requiring employees to change passwords frequently and asking them not to store the password information in an unsecured location, such as their top desk drawer.
Another action step would be to provide basic personal and business cyberattack prevention training. One of the most troubling attacks is that of email phishing. This is when a cyber-criminal will send an email from an account that they have manipulated to look as if it is coming from someone inside the organization. This email might say something along the lines of “the director, Jim has asked for us to transfer $5000 into this Account 555-12345 to pay a past due invoice.” Train your employees to be naturally suspicious. This type of attack could be denied with a simple confirmation call (not email) to the director to make sure the request is legitimate.
We also don’t think much about physical access to technology devices. If you leave your cell phone unlocked or don’t assign password access to your tablet or laptop, you are leaving in vulnerable. In many cases, if someone can physically access your device they could hack it. Encourage employees to properly secure devices both in the office and while on the go. Pay special attention to your cell phone. A cell phone contains a lot of very personal information and for many small business owners, they typically are used in running the business.
I encourage you to be cognizant of the growing issues and empower your employees by providing them with basic cybersecurity awareness training. There are many resources to assist you in providing this training. Reach out to the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center for additional access to resources that can provide cybersecurity training for you and your employees.
“Business Tips” was written by Dezaray Johnson, Certified Business Advisor & Training Coordinator, of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact her at Dezaray.Johnson@angelo.edu.