Amarillo may seem like a small, tight-knit community. Even as business owners, we don’t often think about things like internet security and hackers. Amarillo is bustling with small to medium sized local businesses and each of those businesses is at risk to having their information breached and stolen, whether we want to admit it or not. Small businesses actually make a desirable target for criminal hackers because they often don’t take the right security measures to protect not only their data, but also their customers’ data.
No, a small business might not be the target of the Chinese government or Russian hacking groups but there are threats out there that are common. Here are the top security threats to your small business:
Employees are a security risk simply due to the mistakes that human beings often make. Often, this mistake comes in the form of an email or visiting a malware-laden website. Employees will receive a phishing email that contains attachments, then they will open the attachment, allowing their computers, and then the network, to be infiltrated by hackers. The same thing happens when they accidentally or purposefully visit an infected website, which is all too easy. This highlights the importance of having strong virus protection and educating all employees about staying safe online. Ex-employees are also a risk. When someone works for a company, they need to know all of the passwords for all of the accounts that they use. But what happens when they leave that company? They still know the passwords. Accounts need to be terminated and passwords need to be changed, especially if that employee left on bad terms.
Outdated hardware and software
Outdated operating systems like Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 put businesses who still use them at a substantial risk. These systems are no longer supported which means there are no security updates and no patches for vulnerabilities. This allows hackers to get in quite easily and steal your information. If any malware infects a workstation (which is a matter of when, not if) the entire network could be affected.
Weak passwords and using default passwords
One of the simplest, yet most common security risks comes in the form of passwords. A strong password is one that has lower and upper case letters, numbers, and characters. Although it is frustrating, there needs to be a different password for each account and it needs to change every few months. Passwords are the first defense and the first weakness when it comes to security. Default passwords on hardware such as internet routers also need to be changed to something unique as these are easily hacked.
Card payment systems
Recently, the laws surrounding card payment have changed. Merchants are now required to have systems that read the new chip cards, rather than the magnetic strip cards. The deadline for this change was October 1st. The liability of fraudulent card activity has shifted to the merchant if they do not have the new card readers. There are many regulations surrounding card payment systems...and for good reason, as credit and debit cards are all too often the route that hackers take. Criminals can even hack into point of sale systems and steal information as the card is swiped.
At many organizations, there isn’t a dedicated IT staff that is constantly monitoring systems, watching for invasions, updating software, and implementing new hardware. This is because it is expensive to keep people like that on the payroll. Small to medium sized businesses who can’t afford an IT staff must do something else to protect their business and their information. It is a huge security risk to not perform the duties listed above.
There is another option. The best way for small to medium sized businesses to maintain their network and keep a tight grip on security without hiring a full time staff is to utilize a Managed Service Provider (MSP). It is the job of an MSP to make sure everything listed in this article is no longer a threat. It is the first priority of an MSP to make sure your systems are secure, your information is backed up, and your business keeps on running.
If you are interested in learning more about what a Managed Service Provider can do for you, click here.