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Small business internet security in the 21st century

The 21st century poses certain challenges for small businesses like yours when there is a push to be technologically competitive in the wake of cyber hacking. Every small business owner wants to protect their business and employees from an unauthorized probe and sometimes even downright theft.

Thieves are after sensitive data, which has caused digital theft to surpass actual property theft. An internet security breach such as this is the most reported kind of business fraud. A business owner must take proactive steps to tighten security to protect their trade secrets and staff from identity theft. 

10 security tips

The Federal Communications Commission has a few safety tips you can follow to build a solid internet security plan:

  1. Protect against viruses: All company computers should have the most current security software, browsers and operating systems installed. This method defends you against viruses, malware and other cyber threats which frequently change. If you install important software updates when they become available and set antivirus software to scan after all updates you further your defense.
  2. Secure Wi-Fi networks: Most businesses have some form of Wi-Fi today. You can protect your network by making sure it is secure, encrypted and hidden. You can hide the network by setting your wireless access point or router in a way that does not broadcast the name. You will also want to protect your router by only allowing access through a password.
  3. Security training: You further protect your network by establishing even basic security practices and policies for your employees. Require employees to set strong passwords and make sure to outline internet use guidelines that discuss appropriate uses and penalties for violating such policies.
  4. Have a firewall: A firewall prevents unwanted intruders from gaining access to the data on your private network. You will need to ensure a firewall is available for any employees who work from home as well.
  5. Mobile device action plan: Mobile devices pose their own challenges despite their convenience and the increase in employee productivity. To ensure the safety of these devices, you should have your employees through passwords, encrypted data and other security apps. You should also set up procedures for reporting any lost or stolen equipment.
  6. Backup, backup, backup: Backup your data on a regular basis. You will want to automatically back up all critical data such as word processing, spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resource files and accounting files, at least once per week and have them stored securely offsite.
  7. Control access: Have your employees lock up laptops when not in use and create a separate user account for each staff member to prevent unauthorized access. Only your IT staff and other key personnel should have administrative privileges.
  8. Protect payment cards: You can work with banks or card processors to ensure you are receiving the most protected and trusted tools they offer, including anti-fraud services they provide. You should also understand the liabilities associated under your agreement with the bank or card processor.
  9. Limit authority: Limit the amount and type of access each employee has. Do not allow any one single employee to have full access to all systems. Do not allow your employees to install software without your permission.
  10. Strong passwords, better protection: When you have your employees create a password for their user accounts, require them to create strong ones and change them every three to six months. To add additional protection, you can add a multi-factor authentication process to gain access. 

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