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How Cybersecurity Threats affect Small Businesses – update

A large percent of cybersecurity threats faced by Small Business have their root on the endpoints accessing their IT infrastructure. When an employee mistakenly reveals the password of his/her computer, at home or at work, that contains important business files and information, the Small Business can suffer severe repercussions.

As a result, Small Businesses must protect the endpoints at remote sites in the employees homes and endpoints within the business itself.

Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story for Small Business owners. In addition to Endpoint Security, Small businesses must worry about unauthorized access to their IT environment including their Web Server(s) from other places not just regular endpoints. They must protect the integrity of their business data (Sales, Marketing, Financial, Payroll and HR).  They must monitor that IT apps they rely on work as intended. And, last but not least, they must have plans for Disaster Recovery.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has developed a Cybersecurity Tip Sheet outlining the top 10 ways entrepreneurs can protect their companies and customers from cyber attack.  Here is a view of this tip sheet.

1. Train employees in security principles
2. Protect information, computers, and networks from cyber attacks
3. Provide firewall security for your Internet connection
4. Create a mobile device action plan
5. Make backup copies of important business data and information
6. Control physical access to your computers and create user accounts for each employee
7. Secure your Wi-Fi networks
8. Employ best practices on payment cards
9. Limit employee access to data and information, limit authority to install software
10. Passwords and authentication
Establish basic security practices and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords, and establish appropriate Internet use guidelines that detail penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.
Keep clean machines: having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available.
A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system's firewall is enabled or install free firewall software available online. If employees work from home, ensure that their home system(s) are protected by a firewall.
Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password-protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment
Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.
Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.
If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router, so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.
Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and don't use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.
Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs, and should not be able to install any software without permission.
Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your account.

Merysol Security offers a Cybersecurity Preparedness Assessment service which evaluates your how your company stacks against these measures.

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