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Small business owners are the perfect target for hackers. These businesses are more likely to have weaker online security and lack full-time IT support, making them particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Cyber attacks overall are on the rise, with a 62 percent increase in 2013 from the previous year, according to Symantec.
Small business owners wear many hats, and protecting their client data isn’t something they can afford to put at the bottom of their task list. Employees accessing company data outside the office on company or personal mobile devices create an increased risk for businesses. This summer, as employees enjoy the warm weather and trade in their cubicles for cabanas, small business owners need to take the right steps to manage the cyber security risks posed by remote workers.
Here are four easy tips small businesses can take to be a good data lifeguard for their company data over the summer:
1. Password protect all business devices.
All business devices—this includes computers, tablets and smartphones—should be on lockdown. Every device need to be password protected. Simple right? Not always. The trick is to make sure employees are prompted to change passwords frequently and not selecting easily hacked combinations like “password” or “123456.” A device that is lost or stolen without password protection information is 100 percent accessible to hackers.
Having strong passwords on all company devices won’t guarantee that your data is safe, but it’s the easiest first step to data security. So, set them up and change them often.
2. Take advantage of cloud services.
Cloud services can host corporate email all the way to your entire network at low-cost. If a device is lost or stolen, using cloud services provides comfort that sensitive data won’t completely vanish from a lost or stolen device.
Another big benefit is it allows remote workers to have data available to them anywhere with Internet access. But, you should conduct due diligence before signing a cloud provider to make sure they’re doing everything possibly to keep their client’s data safe.
3. Know the wireless connection.
Give your employees guidelines on the Wi-Fi networks they can use to access company data. Private networks provide security that is lacking in open networks, like those at airports or many restaurants. Many networks are still wide open and unsecured and shouldn’t be used to access company data.
Employees using their personal smartphone for business purposes should be instructed to disable their mobile devices’ default settings to automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi networks.
4. Set up a tracking system and remote wipe service.
It’s important to keep a current inventory of all devices and make sure each one has its GPS tracking turned on in case a device is lost or stolen. Small businesses should also install technology to remotely wipe data from a device that goes missing.
Despite the increase in data breaches and hacking, most small business are not thinking enough about these risks. Only 4 percent of small business owners are concerned about data or security breaches potentially exposing data or impacting sales, according to a Hiscox survey of 1,023 U.S. small business owners. However, with these simple steps, small business owners can begin to fortify their customer data and/or intellectual property.
Hunter Hoffmann is Head of US Communications at Hiscox Insurance and is responsible for media relations, social media, internal communications and executive messaging. Hunter lives in New York City with his wife and two sons – Walker and Otis. In his spare time, he moonlights as Chief Marketing Officer and deliveryman for Junior’s Fresh, a fresh baby and toddler food delivery service and pre-school meal provider in New York City founded by his wife, Michelle.View Hunter Hoffmann`s profile for more