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Cybersecurity and Small Business

Cybersecurity is a constant presence in the news, and an always increasing percentage of business transactions that are digital, network security should be a priority for any organization that processes financial information or owns intellectual property with value. Cybersecurity is of particular note in the news regarding election security. There are many digital avenues where cybersecurity applies directly to protecting public and private interests. Cyber security threats exist on all digital platforms to include threats to websites, threats to personal information on social media platforms, and threats to sway public opinion through misrepresentations in social media activity and news. We focus on the primary cybersecurity threats to businesses.

The most common digital security threats to small businesses are compromising customer financial or private information, access to financial accounts, protecting intellectual property, and network connectivity that directly contributes to business operations. The avenues taken by perpetrators span all digital platforms and communication methods.

There are a few easy steps that improve security and reduce the likelihood of information or financial loss.

1. Secure all wireless networks. It is never a good idea to use generic or default passwords. Some passwords are not required to be changed during device and network setup. Ensure you research your equipment and network style, account for all logins required to access them, and create your own secure passwords. Your router will likely allow you to choose from multiple types of security and password. A good choice is Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) code.

2. Protect all client and vendor payment processing and financial information. There are many methods of processing payment online. No matter the method, it is important to discuss with the payment processor, or software distributor to ensure that all security measures, plugins, and software is up to date. Exploits that compromise machines on the same network running different software versions are common. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council offers a guide to help businesses identify their payment process and provides suggestions for how to best protect the security of your transactions.

3. Have a data recovery plan. The reality of information security is that no network or connected device is 100% secure. Even the most secured networks and data needs a disaster recovery plan. Cloud based data backup is extremely common due to the ease of implementation and speed of data transfer. Cloud based data recovery plans are also low cost compared to physical backup solutions. It is generally not feasible for a small business to provide their own geographically redundant data backup.

Data security must address both physical and digital threats to data loss. Malware and direct network attacks can cause data loss. The building that houses a business’s server room burning down is also a direct threat to data. There are, however, many cost-effective solutions online and through ABN offerings that are financially feasible for small businesses and provide the highest levels of data security and redundancy.

4. Prioritize network reliability. In addition to securing networks with firewalls and anti-virus software as well as basic wireless security measures, it is important to work with reliable service providers. With network connectivity necessary for most business communication and many business operations directly depending on that connectivity, reliable service providers make a direct contribution to efficiency and profitability. Proper network security and reliable service providers are the two biggest factors in network uptime.

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