As small business owners, we wear many hats in order to grow and protect our businesses. In today’s Digital Age, we must wear one more; we are the Protector of our business from the threat of Cyber Intrusion, Data Theft, and Financial Embezzlement.
But how can we protect our business when big businesses with deep pockets can barely protect themselves? We read practically every week another well-known large corporation admit they were “hacked” and millions of customer records have become compromised. Closer to home, we hear how thousands surrender to “digital pirates” via RANSOMware, where your PC and data are held at ransom by data encryption until you pay the bounty, usually $500 or more.
Keep your head up! There are things we can do to protect our businesses, and these proactive defenses won’t break the bank.
First, EDUCATE yourself and your employees who have access to business computers. Passwords should be at least ten characters long, never shared and never written down near the PC. When reading email, never, and I mean never, open an attachment from someone you do not know. Finally, know how to “mouse over”  a link in an email to see where the link will actually take you. These are the most important things you can do to avoid RANSOMware. Putting these practices and others in a manageable Employee Handbook will also help.
Second, CONFIGURE your internet router (yes, you do have one) to settings other than Factory Default. Cyber bad guys know the Factory Defaults and therefore possess the key to your network. Yes, you may need to employ a small business network engineer, but the $85 or less needed to do this is well worth the benefit and the peace of mind.
Third, BACKUP your data. This is ALWAYS a good idea and a sound business practice. Not only does a good backup protect you in case of hardware failure, fire or other disaster, but it also allows you to recover from a RANSOMware without paying the ransom! Why? Because you already have the data in its normal un-encrypted format!
Of course, there are several other items we as small business owners can do to protect ourselves and our customers further. Some are free, and others have a cost associated with it. In every case, however, we are showing ourselves and our customers that we have done our due diligence in this age of Cyber Security.
The above views and comments are those of XLN SYSTEMS. Allen Perk is the owner of XLN SYSTEMS, a software and network security company he has owned since 1991. Allen is a 15-year member of NFIB who regularly attends its state Leadership Council meetings and is Chair of the Central Ohio Area Action Council. Allen also serves on the Ohio Attorney General’s Cyber Security Advisory Board.