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Protect Your Business From Computer Hackers


There have been several hacking incidents in the past year, and the incidents making news always seem to happen to very large companies.


Hackers normally steal customer data, such as names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card details and then use or sell the data in order to make money. The attacks are usually web-based and the hackers try to access the company's data by looking for passwords and security holes in order to access the system. The hackers also frequently try to gain access to the company's email system so they can use this for spreading malware, phishing and spam.


Because of the increase in the report of hacking incidents, as well as enhanced requirements from the federal government, many of the large companies are now increasing their online security systems and the hackers are now focusing their attention on small businesses for their attacks. Instead of attacking one large company, they can now attack several small companies since they are generally an easier target with less secure systems.


The problem presented to small businesses is that many don't have the means to protect themselves from cyberattacks, as compared to the larger companies. Small companies usually have a limited budget and few or no technical experts on staff. It is difficult for them to find the additional money that is needed for their online security systems.


However, there are some basic things you can do to help protect your system as a small business owner. Here are a few of them:

  • Always use antivirus and anti-malware software. This can help prevent malware being installed on your system and gaining access to the internet via your system to send data. Be sure to keep the software updated as new viruses and malware are constantly appearing.
  • Passwords are important as the hackers will always try to find the password to access the system and the email. Always use passwords with combinations of letters and numbers to ensure that it will be difficult for the hackers to find. Change the password from time to time.
  • Employee education is critical. Educate your employees on the risks involved with "surfing the web," bringing in outside software, the use of flash drives, etc. Many breaches of security involve an employee innocently opening an attachment to an e-mail.
  • Back up your system regularly, having a back-up of your data is essential in case you are attacked and your data gets stolen. Keep the backup in an off-site location in an event of fire, etc. at your business.


Overall, even small steps toward protection and security can make a big difference, without costing your business a large amount of money. It's better to take precautions and to have a plan instead of waiting for an attack before doing something about security.


The Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov, and the State of Missouri, www.cybersecurity.mo.gov, both offer information to help protect your business from cyber-attacks.


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