Cybercrime is today one of the biggest threats businesses around the world face. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), companies with less than 100 employees lose roughly $155,000 every year as a result of fraud. Small businesses also have a higher fraud rate than larger companies and non-business owners.
As a matter of fact, hackers look for new vulnerabilities that leave the door open to get them inside systems and capitalise on the weakest element in most organisation’s security: its staff. By using social engineering, hackers aim to trick employees to open a door for them, by asking them to put in a password or download some malware that will take over corporate systems.
The protection of systems, data and hardware may be time-consuming and relatively expensive, but the effects of a cyber attack can cost far more money. Don’t remain susceptible to the risk of a cyber attack. Here are a few steps you can take to shield your small business from common forms of fraud and hacking:
Establish a Password Policy
Passwords are the best things to start with when it comes to protecting your IT systems. Institute a consistent password policy which:
- Ensures that your employees change their password regularly (every 2 or 3 months)
- Sets rules that ensure passwords are case-sensitive (i.e. contain one upper case letter, one number and must be a minimum of eight characters)
- Enforces the use of different passwords for different online and systems accounts
- Asks employees to clear their logins and passwords and refrain from storing them whenever they want to log in to their account.
Setting up a complex password, which is hard for other to guess is crucial. Not all people devote a few minutes to come up with a secure password. According to the security software firm SplashData, the two most common computer passwords today are “password” and “123456”.
Protect Your Credit Cards and Bank Accounts
Credit card abuse is one of the most common sources of fraud. So keep your personal banking and credit cards apart from your business accounts. This practice will make it less possible for fraudsters to get hold of all of your money.
In addition to this, don’t provide your credit card or card number to employees or companies with which you are not completely familiar with and are not reputable. Switch to online bill pay and make sure you store paper bills securely. Use a safe mailbox for receiving and sending bills. It is also important to frequently monitor your online banking for suspicious transactions.
Designate a banking-only Computer
A simple way to combat fraud is to use a particular computer for all online financial transactions, and ideally make sure this computer is not for any other activities such as social media, email, web-surfing which can make it easier for outsiders to access sensitive information. It is also recommended to avoid mobile banking as much as you can.
Back Your Data up
It is likely that small companies may end up with a serious loss of data in a cyber attack. Therefore, coming up with a data-back solution is vital in keeping sensitive information safe. Cloud computing and other internet technologies have made data-backing amazingly cost-effective for small-business owners. Services like DropBox and Carbonite will help you save a lot of money and time to back up your important documents.
Educate Your Personnel
Employees are perhaps one of the biggest security hole in your company but if well trained can be your first line of defense against cybercrime. Organise regular hands-on training sessions on basic online and offline security threats. At the same time, instruct employees on how to handle company’s confidential information such as financial data, personnel and customer information as well as how to recognise potential threats and why it’s important always to take precautions.
Insure Your Business
Last but not least, getting insured should be your last line of defense. Go for an insurance that covers any losses occurred from potential cybercrime and computer fraud. Nowadays insurance policies are affordable, so choose an insurance that specialises in identity theft protection and offers a mix of preventive and reactive tools to maintain your data and credit secure.
Security in any company regardless of size is everyone’s responsibility and as such calls for taking drastic and proactive steps to promote cyber-security given that hackers today work with an array of organised gangs to steal money, data and intellectual property from businesses.