It doesn’t matter if you’re running a limited liability company (LLC) or a nonprofit corporation — you’re almost certainly vulnerable to cybercrime. Even if you primarily run your business offline, you’ve probably heard about how rampant cyber attacks have become these days. Some of the world’s biggest companies have fallen prey to cybercriminals, who have leaked sensitive data that put millions at risk. In truth, it’s a terrifying time to do business without taking the proper precautions. But it doesn’t have to be.
The first step is to educate yourself. For example, you might have a broad understanding of what cybercrime is, but do you really know how it works and what you need to do to protect your business? If you’re ready to put your business first and beware of mounting cybercrime then, then stick around — we’ve got the tools you need to get your business practices up to speed.
What Is Cyber Crime?
So, what exactly is cybercrime? If the name sounds like it refers to any kind of crime that centers on computers, then you’re absolutely on the right track.
In fact, there are two kinds of cybercrimes that involve computers: those in which a computer or internet service is the target, and those in which a computer is the tool used to commit the offense. While the latter description applies to cyber bullying, hate crimes and child pornography, the former is really what you need to concern yourself with as a business professional, since it covers crimes like hacking, phishing and spamming.
Using sophisticated hacking techniques, cybercriminals can access a wide range of data sensitive to your business dealings, including trade secrets and customer information. They might even be able to tap into your business and take ownership of its online identity, or use unauthorized access to exploit your efforts for their own profit. Recent examples of major cyber attacks have involved bank information theft, fraudulent activity and even counterfeit devices used to access personal data.
The FBI is the primary law enforcement body tasked with identifying and bringing cybercriminals to justice. While the FBI and other agencies are always developing new ways to combat cybercrime, hackers are quick to adapt their own tactics in response, creating an ever-evolving digital game of cat and mouse.
Protect Your Business From Cyber Crime
Although countless resources claim to have cracked the code on how to protect your business from cyber criminals’ element, the FBI — as the leader in fighting cybercrime — has some advice of its own. Here’s what they suggest:
- Use antivirus software: Most likely, you have some personal experience with these products, often from companies like Norton or McAfee. They specialize in detecting viruses and preventing other malicious code from invading your systems. Hackers use specific programs to embed viruses into your software or onto your website — without antivirus software running, you might never even realize it.
- Turn on your firewall: In some cases, your antivirus software package will include a firewall component. If not, be sure to acquire one and activate it as soon as possible. Firewalls are another line of defense to keep hackers out of your system. The FBI recommends that every computer have a firewall installed. If your business is comprised of a network of multiple computers, check your hardware routers for firewall protection.
- Stay on top of system updates: It might seem like a minor issue to keep your operating system and other software up-to-date, but it can actually have far-reaching effects as far as how well-protected your business is from cybercrime. Often, these updates are intended to address gaps in security. So if you fail to install updates in a timely manner, you’re leaving yourself open to attack.
- Install anti-spyware software: You may not know much about spyware. But that doesn’t change the fact that it poses a very real threat to your business. Spyware peeks into your systems unnoticed, essentially serving as a surreptitious data collector funneling information directly from you. You might have anti-spyware included in your operating system, but if not, it’s relatively inexpensive to download and protect your system.
- Watch what you download: This should go without saying, but you should never download anything from the internet unless it comes from a trusted source. Too often, hackers find clever ways to masquerade their true intentions. So you need to be extra vigilant to ensure you don’t fall victim to a phishing scam, especially when it comes to email attachments.
- Shut down your computers: In today’s busy world, everyone seems to be logged on 24/7. But if you’re in the habit of leaving your computer on day and night, you might want to rethink that approach. Since you never shut down, you’re likely behind on system updates — and an even easier target for hackers and those looking to gain access to your data.
How to Prevent Cyber Crime Damage
The above are some easy best practices you can do to protect against cybercrime. But what larger actions can you take to prevent an incident from compromising your business? In addition to protecting your systems, here are a few other options to consider:
- Educate your team: To keep hackers at bay, you’ll need a unified front — so make sure you and your employees are all on the same page. Simple measures like instituting more complex password requirements are a good start, but you might want to opt for some onsite security training too. Perhaps you could bring an expert in for a crash course.
- Create a disaster recovery plan: Of course you want to prevent a security breach from affecting your business, but it’s just as important that you have a plan of attack ready in case something does happen. Start by installing intrusion detection into your system and regularly back up your files to prepare for security incidents.
- Monitor and restrict authorized access: Because access is typically the goal for hackers, try to keep your most sensitive files limited only to those who truly need them. This kind of gatekeeping can go a long way toward curbing the vulnerability of your data.
Take a Byte Out of Cyber Crime
Now that we’ve given you a brief overview of the basics, you’re on the road to safeguarding your customers and your team from the horrific damage that cybercrime can inflict on your business. A data breach can undermine everything you’ve worked so hard to accomplish, undoing your reputation and compromising your integrity in moments. Don’t let yours be the next business to feel these effects when you can take some simple steps to prevent it.
At Incfile, it’s our mission to ensure that you have all the knowledge you need to make smart decisions for your company’s future. We’re here to guide you every step of the way, and we even provide a website full of valuable resources you can use to sharpen your business acumen. To learn more about how our services can make starting or managing your business so much easier, just visit our website to get started today.
This article was originally published on the Incfile Blog.