Steps to protect your business against cybercrime

It is estimated business losses from cybercrime are as high as $1 trillion a year worldwide.

Fail-safe protection doesn’t exist. Even the Pentagon, with a brigade of the best computer specialists, gets hit repeatedly.

Crooks will go where the taking is easiest, just as car thieves will grab a radio from an unlocked car before going through the trouble of breaking into a locked car.

Many small businesses have no protection. One in five do not even have antivirus software, and more than half don’t use encryption for wireless links. Two in three have no formal security policy, essentially banking on good luck that they won’t be victimized.

Computer safety doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Some basic steps to take:

  • Install security software that includes antivirus, anti-phishing, anti-spyware and network wide anti-intrusion features and with automatic updating. The subscription cost is not much, about $100 a year. Check out Kaspersky Lab
  • Set up a firewall to protect all confidential information. Use multiple walls to guard your most sensitive data or keep it on a separate server or on paper. Use so-called smart passwords with numbers, letters and symbols, and change them periodically. See my article on creating passwords.
  • Be sure to block access to your network to ex-employees. Beware of disgruntled workers who may be out to get you through computer stealth. Give employees in different departments and positions access only to parts of the network they need.
  • Also, examine anyone who buys advertising on your Web site. This, too, can be a source of malicious software. A personal phone call can trip up those who buy ads and use them to lure your customers to phony sites.
  • Train employees in safe computer practices. It’s the most important best practice and often overlooked by companies. Let them know that visiting nonwork-related sites puts the firm at risk. 80% of malware is downloaded unknowingly at adult pornography sites.
  • Opening attachments from unknown sources can render a firewall useless. Laptops carried out of the office or left at a business conference are prime targets for theft.
  • Also, consider contracting with a certified hacker or white hat to test your system regularly and to offer guidance to your in-house computer staff.
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