6 Steps to Prevent Your Business from Being Hacked
APR 01, 2015 03:42 AM
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6 Steps to Prevent Your Business from Being Hacked

By Larry Alton

Cybersecurity is essential for business owners in 2015. There have been numerous security breaches of major companies just in the last few months, including Anthem Insurance Agency, Sony, and Target. Both public and private businesses alike face the threat of hackers invading their data files and unearthing the personal information of millions of people as well as the possibility of disabling or limiting services to clients.
This is a very serious and overwhelming problem, but luckily, it can be combated by employing a few preemptive strategies in your security plan.
1. Prepare Your Employees.
Anthem suffered the most recent security breach this year when 80 million customers’ names, e-mail addresses, and social security numbers were stolen by hackers. The initial breach appears to be caused by select employees responding to "phishing" e-mails, opening the gates for hackers to intercept the IT servers with malware.
Phishing e-mails often look legitimate, claiming to be from real companies or real employees from those companies, they are just a fraudulent means to extract information from people on the inside of the business.
Businesses need to train employees what these e-mails look like and how to address them. Simple tutorials on the subject would create more awareness and ultimately prevent a destructive breach in the future.
2. Always Verify.
Inform employees that if they receive a suspicious looking e-mail, do not respond, open any attachments, or click any links that may be embedded in the e-mail. Tell them to look up the number for the business the e-mail claims to be representing, and then call them directly.
Do not follow any information given in the fraudulent e-mail. If there is a link provided in the e-mail, type it into a search bar yourself, and do not follow the direct link to avoid a possible redirect.
If these steps have been taken and it is confirmed that the e-mail is trying to invade the computer systems of the company, inform the IT department or the head of cyber security immediately. The quicker these people find out the easier it will be to prevent a major information leak.
3. Create More Layers of Security Protocol.
Hackers often access sensitive information by first invading the login accounts of security cleared personnel. To prevent this method of intrusion, create multiple levels of personal verification for users to access sensitive information.
Create algorithms that change pass codes to privileged information every day or every hour depending on the level of information sensitivity. Businesses will have to stay on top of the common protocol for servers and review access to detect suspicious logins. Always be aware of any unusual access and act immediately to fix any weak links in your security system.
4. Encrypt All of Your Files.
It seems like something simple, but Anthem revealed that the records that the millions of records that were hacked were not encrypted for safety. By using backup software, you can encrypt your data before it gets to a disk or storage device using software backup. By protecting your information at all stages of transfer, you minimize the chance of any breach interference.
Any information that travels across a wireless network are highly susceptible, so utilize a VPN (virtual private network) when working accessing any important information. It’s even advisable to encrypt portable devices in the event that they are stolen.
5. Don't Just Check Your Own Security, Check Your Partners' Too.
Although your security protocols may be top-notch and tightly monitored, it doesn't mean that the businesses you work with have the same sense of quality control. Interacting with third party vendors or financial institutions that have inadequate protection can also open your business for security breaches. Before continuing business with different companies, ask what measures they take to assure total protection from possible hacks.
6. Stay Informed, Keep Your Information Safe
The easiest preventative measure to avoid hacks is to stay informed and communicate with your colleagues and professionals in the field. Stay up to date on what potential scams are underway and what companies have failed to do to combat these threats.
Learn from other companies’ mistakes and always check report hacking attempts to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI. The more transparency businesses have with attempted hacks, the more government agencies can do to prevent more information being lost or the possibility of another devastating attack.
The main technique to preventing hacks into your business is awareness and education. Keep your employees informed and open to taking extra security measures in the face of possible information breaches.
The best thing you can do to protect your company's information is to be very familiar with everyday proceedings and immediately recognize when something is out of the ordinary. You can never do too much to protect the information for your employees, your customers, and yourself.
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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