It seems like there isn’t a day that goes by without some government agency or a major corporation reporting their digital infrastructure is in shambles and a there was data breach that has left sensitive user data exposed. In the aftermath of a hack, many companies have struggled to regain consumer confidence. Here are a few preventative steps small business owners can take to help prevent a debilitating hack.

Invest in cybersecurity
As this Entrepreneur piece explains, the June hack of the files of the U.S. Office of Personnel was so devastating because the information the hackers stole from that organization’s network was not encrypted. If your business retains any kind of customer information, you’ll want to maintain up-to-date anti-viral, network firewall, cloud security and web scanning software. By doing this, you’ll protect yourself against hackers who exploit weaknesses in outdated software code. It’s also a good idea to employ the services of a reputable cybersecurity company like Incapsula and Cloud Flare instead of using an open-source program. When it comes to protecting your customer’s data, you don’t want to use security tools the entire world has access to.

Establish an internal cybersecurity policy
IBM’s Security Services 2014 Cyber Security Intelligence Index report revealed the most common factor in 95 percent of corporate data breaches is human error. Most commonly, human error manifests itself in the form of workers using default logins and easy to guess passwords. A top of the line cybersecurity platform is only effective as the people who use it, so make sure that any of your employees who have access to your company’s website or servers update their credentials regularly. Also you should prohibit your employees from using company computers for personal web browsing or installing any software or browser plugins without prior approval.

Invest in physical security
Did you know that if your business operates in the medicalacademic or mobile electronics fields, you have a high factor for being the victim of a physical data breach? As cybersecurity becomes more sophisticated, hackers have resorted to older methods of data theft, namely breaking into a business and ransacking it of all physical files and electronic storage devices. To lower your risk of falling victim to a physical breach, instruct your employees about the dangers of phishing and look into the purchase of a safe or secured filing cabinet that can be used to protect devices and files that contain sensitive information. Additionally, you might consider installing a closed-circuit surveillance system in business to ensure than none of your equipment has been tampered with. While these security measures may seem expensive, losing consumer confidence is significantly more costly.

This article was written by Mario McKellop for Small Business Pulse


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