Christopher Lentz | November 22, 2013 07:01 PM
Small businesses have long been one of the largest targets for slackers or, as they are more commonly known, hackers. Though there have been great advances in technology over the past decade small businesses have not really changed their practices when it comes to security. As a result, hackers are taking advantage of this and exploiting small business systems and networks all over the world. However, with the right preparations you can secure your business for as little as a few hundred dollars. Let's take a look at why hackers target the small business, why it is important to implement a proper security plan, and how to reduce that risk within your budget.
According to Symantec, data breaches cost US companies an average of $188 per record lost/compromised. Only Germany surpassed that dollar amount with its data breaches. So what is the reason that these hackers are targeting the small business? The main reason is simply the lack of security in place to keep them out. Most small businesses are open doors to the modern hactivist with their extremely sophisticated malicious coding tools. Another reason that hackers target these businesses is the lack of security training and education within these organizations. Kevin Mitnick, one of the world's most well know hackers, used Social Engineering techniques to convince assistants, workers, and even IT professionals to give him access to systems he had no reason to be on. True hackers are extremely intelligent and quick on their toes, they know just what to say and when to say it. This is why Phishing has been one of the largest forms of computer crime for years. Tricking users is easy without proper training and knowledge about when and who to give sensitive information to.
For most small business owners, IT is seen as only an expense on their balance sheets. This has led them to neglect investing in simple security devices and plans that could save their business from potential and catastrophic failure. Without proper planning and analysis, putting a security plan in place will be quite difficult. Security cannot be overlooked not matter the size of your company. Hackers are constantly searching and probing for companies that do not have any security measures in place. These are easy targets for them and usually generate a lot of cash when they sell the information or use it to make their own purchases under your name or financial information. If you are like most of us, this is a concerning matter and one that should be dealt with sooner rather than later.
No matter how large, or how small, your business is overlooking security can be costly. However, the following three things can reduce your risk and in most situations keep the hackers at bay. First and foremost is creating an acceptable use policy which outlines who is allowed to access certain information within your company and who is not (hint: no one outside your business). This policy can really help to keep your staff in the know about what information is safe to give to callers, emails, and other inquiries. Second, is to develop secure and complex passwords for everything that is connected to your business. I know, I know these are hard to remember...but I have a little trick for you to make creating and remembering your passwords easier. For example, lets say that your favorite sport is tennis. You could create a password "John McEnroe Loves Wimbeldon", however that might be a bit long. Let's try shorting it a bit to "jmlw". Now it is too short, most passwords require at least 8 characters. So let's add in his birth year to bring us to "jmlw1959". We now have an 8 character password. When a special character is required, just add your favorite to the end, like this "jmlw1959!". There you have it; a complex, random password that you can easily remember. Last but not least, break out your wallet to purchase a firewall. For around USD $500 you can purchase a well-featured Dell SonicWall firewall for your small business. If you are on a really tight budget though, check out eBay for used Cisco, WatchGuard, or SonicWall firewalls. Even a used system is better than no system at all.
Now that you see you are not invisible to the world of malicious hackers, it is time to take the steps necessary to take care of your business assets. Take the target off your back and feel the freedom of knowing your business is safe from the crazy, crazy world out there.