If you pay attention to the news, you know that no business is impervious to hackers and cyber attacks. In fact, even major corporations like Target and Marriott have been impacted by data breaches over the past few years. So, is there anything you can do to protect your own small business? As it turns out, there are some fairly simple measures you can take to help safeguard your business from threats and help it recover in the event of a cyber attack.

 Audit All Hardware and Software Systems

You can protect yourself from data breaches from the start by opting for secure hardware and software for your small business. If it has been a while since you reviewed your systems, now is the perfect time to do so. To protect your sensitive business data, it’s crucial to thoroughly research the companies you use for hardware and software so that you can be sure that data security is addressed by their products. If you can’t find this information or are not sure about your current systems, it may be best to make a few upgrades.

Your payment acceptance systems and programs should be among the first reviewed. If you discover that yours is not as protected as it could be, you should invest in a more secure payment system that has top-quality data security and fraud prevention built-in. Securing your payment systems is a simple tactic for preventing data breaches from disrupting your business, especially since consumer credit card data is commonly targeted by small business hackers. This puts small businesses in the unenviable position of having to mitigate any potential damage and earn customer trust back again in order to recover.

Review Employee Data and Device Usage Policies

While having the right software and hardware can help protect your company’s data, your first line of defense has to be your employees. Employees are privy to sensitive business and customer information every single day, so make sure you safeguard it with effective policies. One practice that has the business community divided is the use of personal devices for the completion of business tasks and communications. This may seem like a cost-effective way for employees to work from home or out in the field. However, a simple mistake is all it takes for hackers to access your company’s information on these unsecured personal devices. If your employees fail to install antivirus software or forgets to update their operating system, for example, any business-related content could be left vulnerable to attacks.

Employees who leave your company can also pose a risk to your data privacy, so take the right steps to ensure your business is fully protected. This may include ensuring that you can wipe company-owned devices and data from devices remotely. So, consider using specialized security apps to delete sensitive business and client information from lost or stolen devices.

Use Secure Email Providers for Business Communications

Implementing the best practices for employee data and internet usage can go a long way in shielding your business from attacks. However, those same employees should also be on the lookout for emails and websites that could link to phishing scams. Hackers are getting pretty good at sending these mock emails or website information to small businesses, attempting to hook users with alarming messages that prompt them to log in or provide sensitive data. Include phishing danger signs in your data training and ensure that your email provider is secure. Using a free account is not always the best choice for small businesses, so make sure your provider uses encryption and filters to properly protect your business from hacking attempts, suspicious spam messages, and malware.

Malware infections can cut into your profits, but more importantly, they cut into your trust with your customers. That damage is often much harder to repair. So, your best bet is to prevent malware and cyber attacks from affecting your small business in the first place.

Being the victim of a data breach or cyber attack is bad for business. That said, you can lessen the online threat to your small businesses with a few preventative steps and measures. So, get proactive about protecting your business’s data.

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About rpjohnston

Randy is a nationally recognized technology consultant and speaker.

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