The new year is here. Now that it’s 2017, many small businesses are rushing to meet the sales goals they set for the fourth quarter rather than looking ahead to their 2017 goals.
One aspect of 2017 that many businesses are starting to focus on – if last November’s election is an indication – is cyber security.
One of the biggest universal fears today is that our important information is in danger from online criminals and hackers. It seems that more frequently we’re hearing of instances of hackers attacking computer databases to retrieve confidential information.
An attack like this on a small business could certainly prove devastating.
Through 2015, the estimated cost of cyber-attacks totaled upward of $15.4 million across U.S. companies—and businesses that employ less than 100 employees faced 71% of these attacks. In 2014 alone, 44% of all small businesses (more often, those within the financial industry) reported some form of cyber-attack in the calendar year.
Is your business prepared to fend off a cyber-attack?
Here are 5 tips to ensure you are:
- Train your employees so they understand the protocols for e-communication, including what to do in the event of a breach. Training should also include a lesson on the importance of having a strong password and how to change it frequently.
- Ensure you create and distribute a security IT policy for your business. A strong policy will include all risks and should grow as new risks are developed. This is particularly important for those in finance.
- Ideally, all financial requests should be verified via telephone.
- Sensitive information, including banking information, should be kept on a computer that is not connected to the internet. No internet access will give sensitive information extra protection from online hackers.
- Ensure your software is continually kept up-to-date because software companies are continually creating software plugins to make their product as safe as possible.
Cyber security is among the most common concern of businesses worldwide. If there are individuals trying to steal sensitive information, there will be protocols in place to stop them and businesses will need to work to keep themselves safe.
For more of what 2017 will bring for small businesses, read about next year’s health care changes.