Hackers are adept at finding ways to get through basic security measures like firewalls, antivirus/anti-spyware programs, encryption, and more. Even organizations which should have the highest levels of security are getting hacked, and this includes not only mega-corporations, but also health insurance providers and government entities. (Sony, JP Morgan, US Postal Service and Home Depot, to name a few)
As a small business owner, this can be disheartening. After all, if these bastions of data security can be hacked, what chance do you have to protect your confidential data from theft or destruction? You can consider yourself lucky in one way, which is that you aren’t necessarily on the radar of elite hackers in the same way larger entities are. Hackers do what they do either for financial gain, personal motives or simply to say that ‘they can’. Therefore you don’t have the type of target on your back in the same way as the bigger companies.
However, you also have a much more limited budget than larger competitors. All hope is not lost, though. There are still steps you can take to prevent hackers from accessing your network, and with the assistance of an appropriate technology service, you can find the affordable solutions that will keep your data safe from outside threats.
This is an extremely important part of keeping hackers at bay. Whether your employees use a system of passwords to access your network and secure storage sites, or you provide customers with remote access to accounts (or both), this protective measure is only as strong as the policies and procedures that go into it. You should come up with appropriate and detailed password protection protocols to thwart hackers.
Some examples of appropriate password protection measures can include requiring strong passwords (8+ characters that include letters, numbers, capital letters, and symbols), forcing users to change passwords frequently, and not showing which fields (username and password) are correct and/or incorrect during a failed login. In addition, you need to provide instruction for employees and customers to ensure they understand proper guidelines for setting passwords (such as keeping information private and not using the same login information for multiple accounts).
When it comes to hiring help for server monitoring, web filtering software and server maintenance is one of the best options available to help you increase security and prevent hacking. On the software side, you can select programs that either warn users when they’re about to engage in potentially harmful activities (like visiting dangerous websites or clicking spammy links) or that simply block such activities entirely.
As for server monitoring, you could speak with a managed services provider, who can offer a variety of useful services. Not only can they keep an eye on network usage to spot inconsistencies (like employees that are streaming videos which slow down your network), but they can also provide you with reports and expert analysis. This should help you to catch employees that are breaking the rules so that you can put a stop to their dangerous activities and divert the disaster of a hack.
IT security is a rapidly growing field because so many companies require the expertise of IT support specialists that can find creative ways to protect sensitive data at affordable rates.
Some larger businesses even go as far as to hire ‘Ethical Hackers’. These hackers are paid by the company to try to hack their systems and expose potential weaknesses. Of course, this is an extreme measure, but one that larger corporations are willing to take.
As a small business owner, it’s in your best interest to seek out reputable vendors that can not only offer IT procurement, but that can also help you to understand your security needs and implement suitable solutions. You might not need the same level of protection as larger companies, but you definitely need basic security features and data backup options. You might also be interested in maintenance, monitoring, and cloud hosted services. The right provider of IT support can guide you toward the workable solutions your business needs to function effectively and prevent hackers from accessing your network.
Once you put appropriate security measures in place with the help of a qualified vendor for IT support, it’s not a bad idea to test the defenses regularly. You need to know that your security is going to hold up to attack, and if you can breach network protections, hackers surely can. Your IT services provider should be able to help you in this capacity or recommend a trusted partner to accommodate your needs. (Without an expensive ‘Ethical Hacker’) With regular testing you have a much better chance of identifying weaknesses in your defense and making timely adjustments and upgrades to keep your network protected from attack.
Remember, Hackers are out there. Some of them are incredibly intelligent virtual thieves looking to exploit a business for financial gain. Others are fifteen year old boys or girls, sat in their pajamas looking for bragging rights among their friends. While the risk of Hackers is probably minimal for a small to medium sized business, being complacent could put your business at high risk. Don’t take chances – New security loopholes are constantly popping up because of wireless networking and other technologies. The cat-and-mouse game between hackers and system administrators is still in full swing.