Earlier this year over 100 celebrities (including Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, swimsuit model Kate Upton and many more) recently had naked and explicit photos hacked from their iCloud accounts and published online. The hackers aggressively attempted to blackmail many others, threatening to post their pictures online.
While it’s very easy to dismiss these hacks as a publicity attempt targeting only the rich and famous, it’s scary to think of all the data we have in our businesses that we would never want in the hands of any criminal.
Small Businesses Are Actually A Cybercriminal’s Favorite Target
Why? Because small business owners are not prepared and make it easier on criminals. One of the biggest issues facing small business owners in the fight against cybercrime is the lack of a cybersecurity plan. While 83% lack a formal plan, over 69% lack even an informal one. And over half of small business owners believe that cybercrime will never affect them.
Cyber-attacks cost SMBs an average of $188,242 each incident, and nearly two-thirds of the businesses affected are out of business within 6 months (2011 Symantec/NCSA Study). A separate study by Verizon showed that over 80% of small-business cybercrime victims were vulnerable because of insufficient network security (wireless and password issues ranked highest). With insecure networks and no formal plan to combat them, we make it easy on the criminals.
Here are a few tips to help strengthen cybersecurity at the basic level:
- Use complex passwords
The best passwords are a combination of letters (both upper and lowercase), numbers and special characters (e.g. *, @, =, +, etc.) Avoid using words, such as “applepie” even if they are modified to comply with the aforementioned, “@pp13P1e” is such an example. If you’re stumped to come up with a password, there are password generators who can do it for you.
- Change your password with each new site or service and do so often
A surefire way to ensure you that the damage done via hacking reaches peak capacity is to use the same password over and over again. Instead, use a unique password for each website or service. Be sure to change your passwords approximately every 30-60 days as well. If you’re concerned about keeping track of all your passwords and changes, consider using a vaulted, encrypted service such as LastPass.
- Use caution when downloading apps, files and so forth
With so many options it can be easy to simply click and install. However, a watchful eye can prevent an expensive recovery process. For example, phishing emails often try to capture your passwords. If you are prompted by a service you use regularly to reset your password, don’t click on the link they provide. Instead go directly to the site you know is safe and change it. In the same respect installing cheap software, not paying attention to the permissions allowed by apps can also pose problems. As a general rule of thumb, slow down. A penny of prevention will save a pound of frustration.
- Backup your files in the cloud
Small businesses and consumers alike often make the tragic mistake of not backing up data, or failing to back it up into a remote location. While it can be easier to simply backup to a device such as a flash drive, CD or external drive this doesn’t prevent invention between your devices. It also doesn’t protect you should your hardware be damaged in a fire or flood.