As use of the internet has become more prevalent across all walks of life, businesses looking to compete have necessarily had to include online operations as part of their overall strategy for success. In most cases, this allows for greater efficiency, lower costs, and more options for everything from inter-office communications and customer service to marketing and sales (and everything in between). But functioning in the online arena has also led to a whole new world of security threats for the company that fails to adequately protect itself. So whether you’re new to the internet game where your business venture is concerned or you’ve been pinching pennies on your security, here are just a few common threats that you should definitely be aware of, if not take strides to prevent.
For most businesses, the biggest threats inherent in operating online come in the form of viruses and spyware. Just like individual users working from the comfort of their own home, businesses that fail to protect themselves from these basic threats are almost certain to encounter them due to their sheer prevalence on the internet. However, these can be combatted easily enough by installing even simple antivirus and anti-spyware software solutions. But while these might be sufficient for some small businesses, they won’t stand up to targeted attacks.
For larger companies or those that deal with sensitive customer information, stricter measures are in order. Even small business may find themselves at the mercy of hackers and other cyber criminals intent on mischief and mayhem. In some cases their systems may be hacked for the purpose of stealing data. Others may suffer from malicious attacks in which data is simply erased. Either could wreak havoc on business operations and create major problems for customers. So any company that operates in the online arena should think about taking a number of steps to protect themselves from such threats.
The first thing to do is create a strong firewall to repel would-be intruders. You should also change system passwords frequently as well as assigning individual passwords to users and prompting them to change their passwords on a schedule (monthly or even weekly, for example). And if you use a WiFi network you should have a rotating password for this system, as well. Of course, even this might not be enough to stop a persistent or skilled invader. In this case, you need to think about how you can stop them from corrupting or using your data. An automated backup system that sends data to cloud storage or an offsite server daily is one good way to ensure that little or no data is lost in the event of a malicious attack. But if you’re more worried about data being stolen, compartmentalize your storage and encrypt sensitive files. You might also use a dedicated and secure server for file transfer, such as a password protected FTP site.
And keep in mind that not all threats are external. Dishonest employees (or disgruntled ex-employees) may use their knowledge to cause harm to your company. Your best bet here is to limit access and compartmentalize so that you always know who is accessing what. And change passwords any time someone is fired. In addition, create policies that protect you from naïve or ignorant workers. For example, make sure that everyone is aware of phishing scams so that they don’t accidentally give out sensitive information (like passwords) to anyone who requests it. These steps may cost you some money and time up front, but they stand to save you a lot in the event that you encounter threats to your online operation.