Is Your Business at Risk For a Cyber Attack?

Small business owners have many things to worry about, plan for and be in charge of. One area that many overlook is their cyber security. As it becomes easier for more businesses to join the digital age and promote their stores online, it is becoming increasingly easy for hackers to gain access to their sites. While hackers can bring down your site, they can also view and use financial information for your store and your online shoppers for their own benefit. This will not only cost your store, it has the potential to scare off future buyers if your site is a known source of identity theft.

According to the U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology, almost twenty percent of cyber attacks are committed on businesses with less than 250 employees. Of those who were hit, sixty percent of them were forced to close within six months of being attacked. Employees, or former employees of the businesses that are hit cause almost half of all cyber attacks. While most employees do not realize the danger they are causing, the result is the same.

Here are three ways to safeguard your business from a cyber attack.

Since employees cause the majority of in-house issues, educate them on risky behaviors and what the results could be. If you yourself do not know what behaviors to avoid and what security measures are needed, hire a service to help you get the training you need. Many towns across the country have at least one or two small Internet security companies. Search them out and see how they can help your business and your site. They may also find ways to optimize your site and save you even more money or time with your site.

Once you receive the training, if you are comfortable with training your employees yourself then do so; if not, see if you can include training for your employees in the initial agreement with your security company.

Make Rules Everyone Follows
Once everyone knows the risks of their behavior, make a list of rules for everyone to follow and abide by. These rules will help enforce what their training has already brought to their attention.

The rules should include a monthly changing of all passwords. Remind everyone that passwords should not be of their child’s name, pet’s name or your store’s name. They should also not write down their password and keep it posted by the computer. Many businesses do this and are amazed how quickly a customer or a hacker can gain access to the password while just casually shopping in their store.

Remind employees also of the potential risk that can arise from their using the store’s Internet for their own personal browsing. Opening the wrong email on your store’s computer could instantly put it at risk for being attacked. Remind everyone that while at work only work-related usage of the Internet is allowed.

If your store has a wireless router, do routine checks on who is accessing your signal. You may be shocked how easily someone has gained access to it. Make certain employees do not use your wireless system with their own personal devices either. The more devices on your system, the more chances for attacks.

Once the rules are in place and everyone has signed off on them, acknowledging that they have read and will comply with them, run periodic checks on your employees. Look for irregularities and address them as soon as you can. Someone may have forgotten the rules or has simply disregarded them. Have consequences in place for such behaviors and follow through with them.

Take Responsibility
Once all of the dust has settled and your site is running securely, designate a trusted member of your staff to be in charge of your site’s and store’s digital security. Have them run routine maintenance checks on your site and ensure all security software remains up to date. They can also be in charge of training new employees, especially seasonal ones.

The size of your store, the number of employees you have working for you, and your store’s location mean nothing when it comes to cyber attacks. The digital world is always evolving, for the good and the bad. While the Internet is no longer the Wild West, it still has more than a few handful of rogue figures who are constantly on the search for a small business who hasn’t taken the steps to ensure their store’s security. Do not help them out by thinking you’re too small to be hit – you could be next.

What steps do you take in your store, or for your store’s site to ensure it’s security? If you have never taken a look at your own Internet security, will you now? Share your thoughts with us all on our Facebook page or in our LinkedIn group. We will be interested in your thoughts.