As a small business owner, it can be easy to think you’re not at risk for online security issues. There are bigger fish to fry, right? Wrong. Richard White, managing director of Oxford Solutions, a leading cyber security company in New York City, says “that is just the thinking that will get you into trouble.”
Well, shoot. So what can you do? We know that no one is EVER sitting around just monitoring our computers. Certainly not us — the small business people — we wear too many hats to add Online Security Guru to our collection. And the people who offer to do so should be properly vetted.
With this in mind, I sat down with Richard to discuss the importance of online security. Here are a few tips you can use to protect yourself and your business.
1. Keep a good security software suite.
Windows or Mac, antivirus alone is not enough. Your personal computer and small business networks require the ultimate protection — even at home. A security suite offers full protection from viruses and spam, enables safe web surfing and email protection. Your Internet provider typically offers discounted security software.
2. Always update all software.
Windows and Mac operating systems need to be up to date. Accept automatic updates from software companies like Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and your own security software. They will often have the most updated fixes for potential breaches.
3. Configure your web browser settings.
Today’s web browsers offer easy-to-configure settings that protect your computer and information from intrusion. Open the options and explore the security settings that fit your needs.
4. Be smart about your passwords.
Keep your passwords secret. Change them immediately if you even think they’ve been compromised. Make your password uniquely yours with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for every account. Change the important ones at least every 90 days.
5. Secure your home network.
Enable WPA2 encryption on your wireless router. Change the password to your WIFI and router hotspot. Hide the name of your network so only you can access it. Check with your Internet service provider to help you with these security methods.
6. Use social media safely.
Make updates to your social media settings using a secure connection (https). Set your profile to notify you when changes are made. Check for updates to privacy and security, especially since social media sites are always changing and improving.
7. Secure your smartphone.
Use the password-lock feature. Turn off Bluetooth and location services when not in use. Keep in mind that smartphones are subject to malware, too. Don’t download apps that are not familiar, and look into using virus protection apps.
8. Be cautious with public WIFI.
Free public WIFI can be dangerous. Be your own WIFI hotspot when possible. It’s always best to use cellular connections even if the WIFI is free.
9. Don’t open suspicious emails.
This might be a no-brainer, but don’t open suspicious emails. Hackers are getting more and more sophisticated — it only takes one click to get infected. What are you expecting? Are there any misspellings or odd characters? Be especially cautious of emails that have embedded hyperlinks.
10. Be vigilant.
Many of us work from home at some point during our careers. Whether you’re using a flash drive or working remotely from your laptop, you’re at risk for spreading viruses. If you think your computer might be infected, don’t open it at another location. Deal with the malware first before connecting to other networks.
It can seem like a lot of work, but protecting yourself online can save you tons of money and heartbreak in the future. Your small business is important — take a page out of Richard’s book and elevate your online security. These simple steps make all the difference.
Also published on Medium.