Cybercrime is on the rise, up 10% from 2009. In fact, PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that nearly half of all businesses had been a victim of fraud in the past year. For small businesses, these attacks can be especially harmful to your bottom line, putting your clients’ personal data at risk and threatening to take systems down for days at a time. Below are a few ways cybercrime can affect your business in 2012:
- Website compromising. Website hacking is dangerous because it can influence the way your clients see you. When PBS’s website was compromised in 2011, hackers not only posted a fake news story about deceased rapper Tupac Shakur, they released usernames and passwords for PBS affiliates. SonyPictures.com also suffered an attack last summer in which usernames and passwords were leaked. In both cases, outdated software and security measures were blamed, but it was also noted that many of the passwords being used were surprisingly simple. Small businesses should set strict password standards, enforced server-wide. As recommended by Microsoft, passwords should be at least six characters long and contain a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Keylogging. Imagine someone having a printout of everything you type, every time you log in to your computer. That’s what keylogging does and it’s one of the ways hackers can gain entry into your system. This is an especially dangerous hack, since it can allow outside entities to gain access to your customers’ credit card data, bank account info, and social security numbers, in addition to the passwords to your business’s databases and in-house software. Keylogging software can either be installed through a virus or directly installed by someone gaining inside access to your computer systems. It is important that small businesses keep all virus definitions up to date and make sure software applications like Java and Adobe Flash are consistently up to date on every PC and laptop in your organization. Having outdated versions of these applications can leave you open to vulnerabilities.
- Password theft. Hackers can often gain access to a system by repeatedly guessing one user’s password until they get it right. Password-cracking software exists that makes guessing easier. By using the above mentioned password standards, as well as enabling a lockout feature on each account that allows only a set number of tries before an account is locked, you can help protect the integrity of your network. But, many password thefts are done the old-fashioned way. Stress to your employees the importance of keeping passwords safe by not writing them down and leaving them where they can be stolen (like on a post-it note stuck to your monitor).
- Unauthorized computer use. If you’re depending on your employees to Control + Alt + Delete and lock their workstations every time they go to the bathroom, you may be putting your computers at risk of intrusion. Set a policy on every workstation in your company for PCs to automatically go into screen saver or power-down mode after a short period of inactivity. Be sure to check the box that requires a password to get back in. This is done in the screen saver section of your Windows operating system, under power settings.
By following a few safety measures, you can ensure your business is uninterrupted by unwanted attacks in 2012, allowing you to focus on the important business at hand.
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