If you’re a business owner, it’s important to take information security seriously. As a small business owner in particular, you and your customers are at risk. About 43 percent of all cyber attacks target small businesses, according to smallbiztrends.com.
Fortunately, there are several relatively easy—and cheap—steps you can take to protect your information and your customers’ information, too.
Download a Virtual Private Network. VPNs were created to make your networks more secure. They’ll allow you to browse the web without worrying about hackers discovering your private information. If you browse the internet with your business’ computer—and, really, who doesn’t—you should look into this. Check out safervpn.com for a list of the best ones to check out.
Avoid public wi-fi. It’s tempting to pull up your Facebook stream or scroll through your Twitter feed when you’re having lunch, grabbing a cup of coffee or pushing a cart through the grocery store, but every time you do you’re putting yourself at risk. Open networks are just that—open—and it is possible for hackers to access the sites you’re visiting and see your information.
Encrypt your devices. It’s important to be safe and careful while you’re browsing the Internet, but that won’t help you protect your customers’ information if you leave your own computers and devices without the proper protection. Encrypting your devices will protect your customers’ information if someone happens to walk off with your phone or laptop. Make sure to use the security settings on your computer and smart phones. It’s worth the few extra seconds it will take you to unlock them.
Use a Password Manager. Passwords are a pain, right? Most of us will use the same one for all the sites we visit, as well as for our personal email and other log-ins. In fact, nearly 60 percent of us reuse old passwords because it’s too difficult to remember new ones.
That, however, is the point of creating new passwords. When the security of your customers and their business data is at stake, simple or reused passwords won’t do the trick. Password managers generate strong passwords and store them in an encrypted vault you access with a single master password. They provide strong, unique passwords for every website and take the difficulty out of remembering them at the same time. Keepass and 1Password are two of the best managers.
Keep up to date. Automatic updates are nearly as much of a hassle as creating new passwords, but they’re almost as important. Most automatic updates include increased or enhanced security meant to counteract the latest online threats. You can protect yourself against software vulnerabilities by making sure your operating system, web browser, and computer software are updated. Make sure you have your automatic updates enabled, and don’t ignore the plentiful Java or Adobe update requests. If you rely on Internet Explorer, try switching to Firefox or Chrome; they update automatically.
What other steps do you take to protect yourself online? Let us know in the comments!