Many people think that hackers only target large corporations. Every few months, a headline comes out about a big company that has lost millions of names and addresses, or worse, millions of dollars. This focus on major companies can lull small businesses to sleep regarding network security.
Hackers increasingly attack businesses that are not household names. These attacks can take the form of stealing money from accounts, installing ransomware that seizes all your files until you pay for them to be released, or retrieving personal data related to customer identities, credit cards, and account information.
The good news is that there are effective and inexpensive ways to protect your IT network from hackers, and you can implement these safeguards quickly without disrupting your business operations.
You have no doubt heard about using complex passwords and changing them frequently, as well as controlling who has access to sensitive information. Let's look at some technological solutions to your security vulnerabilities.
Encrypt Your Wireless Network
You may think of your wireless system as serving your business inside your space, but the truth is, wireless signals "leak" out of your building, and a talented amateur with the right equipment can capture all of your information while parked in a car outside. Use WPA2 encryption for your wireless signal. The process takes about 30 minutes. You can learn how to do it here.
Encrypt All of Your Data
Most modern operating systems have Full Disk Encryption (FDE) built in. A windows computer uses BitLocker, and a Mac uses FileVault. These programs automatically encrypt your data when you store it. If you don't have encryption, you can install encryption software such as Symantec Endpoint Encryption.
Don't stop with your computers. Encrypt all data that goes into the cloud as well. Many cloud providers offer encryption as part of their service, but if you want to take charge of file encryption yourself, use a tool like Boxcryptor to encrypt your files before you upload them.
Back Up Your Files
Store files away from your network. You can do this by subscribing to an online file storage service such as eVault. With all of your files stored online, you can always retrieve them in the event your computers are attacked by ransomware. You won't have to pay to get your data back from the hackers.
Anti-virus software doesn't work well on phones. However, you can turn on special features. Lock your screen so that no one can get into the phone without a password. You can set the phone so that it is completely erased if someone can't enter the right password after several tries. You can also track and erase devices remotely with monitoring software. Phones can leak information that allows access to your network, so implement measures immediately to protect these devices.
Disable File and Print Sharing
If each of your computers is set to share files and print, then you are broadcasting signals that lead right to your files. An employee using a laptop in a public place will be inadvertently giving every hacker in the area access to your files. Disable this feature on your computers and leave it active on your server. Learn how do disable here.
Use Dual Authentication
You can require anyone logging on to your system to enter a code that will be sent to his or her phone. Dual authentication prevents anyone from gaining access who has stolen a password. That password is useless without the temporary code your system sends to the employee's phone. Learn how to get started with dual authentication.
The Bottom Line
A small business can go out of business by not protecting a network. In addition to all the useful tips such as using advanced passwords, installing anti-virus and anti-spyware software on computers, and granting access to files based on permissions, use some advanced techniques to keep your network safe.