This Summer will be a very difficult season for small businesses to stay safe; and in some cases, complete online business activities. Of all the things we have seen so far, I feel the worst is yet to come this July. Here’s where I think the immediate security threats will come for small business. Read below to see where you should focus.
I have been actively training many businesses this Spring and Summer. I have been able to see where many businesses are struggling with their technology and security. From scams appearing right on the laptop screen right in the middle of a class, all the way to issues with lost Facebook Pages. This Spring and Summer has been a challenge for business with the WannaCry ransomware threat. And it is only going to get worse with the release of the latest ransomware threat.
Security – Here’s where I believe are the greatest risks to small business:
Opening emails with viruses in them:
This action can download ransomware right onto computers, as well as other scams that want us to call a phone number because the computer appears to have been infected.
Drive by downloads:
The user visits a website that has malware on it, resulting in the computer becoming infected.
Old email accounts that have not had their password changed recently:
This enables hackers to gain access to the email account and possibly any social media accounts that use that email as a login. The Microsoft email systems seems to be the most vulnerable from my experience so far.
Going cheap on an antivirus:
The antivirus is the junk yard dog. It keeps intruders out of your computer. Going cheap to save money might be one of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make. Once intruders get on to the computer, identity thief, account breeches and such can happen. Entire networks can be taken out by ransomware.
Not backing up the files offline:
Ransonware can now affect online storage as well as computers. Online storage is the Cloud. It includes Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and the like. Don’t let files get lost because of a virus or a computer issue. In one moment, you could lose all your files and folders.
Not using 2 step verification where possible:
2 step verification acts like a deadbolt on a door that provides extra security. It makes our phone a vital part of the log in process to our website or our social accounts . When networks get hacked, and hackers get usernames and passwords, the hackers will try access our accounts unless they are stopped by 2 step verification.
The above issues can be prevented from happening by diligent business owners. Those that ignore the above security concerns do so at their own risk. It is better to be proactive than reactive. It will cost you less time in the end.
Security – Here’s what you can do to fix these risks:
Watch what emails you open:
Make sure your computer email program “Reading Pane” is turned OFF!!! I am currently referring to an email program on your computer just as Outlook, Thunderbird, Microsoft mail or the like. I am not referring to online email accounts you view in a web browser.
The Reading Pane allows you to preview the email either to the right of the screen, or at the bottom of the screen. The Reading Pane OPENS the email when turned ON. The Reading Pane can cause malware to run on your computer once the email is automatically opened and viewed.
For your safety, you should only be able to open an email on your computer by double clicking it.
Important Reminder: I am not referring to online email client like Gmail, Outlook.com and Hotmail; that you login to through your web browser. I am referring to your email program installed on the computer. These online email accounts have their own concerns.
Watch where you surf and be careful what links you click on:
You need to make sure that your antivirus scans websites you visit for known malware. You should not use your business computer for personal surfing where possible. Visiting infected sites is hazardous to the health of your computer.
Get rid of old email accounts where possible, and if you are still using them, regularly change their passwords:
You need to know what these old email accounts are connected to, and what information you have on them. If they are connected to a Facebook account, one might lose one’s Facebook Page. What you neglect over time just might come around and bite you square on the butt.
Get a good antivirus program:
Just because you can get a free antivirus does not mean you should. You need to do some research for yourself and get a mean “Junk yard dog” antivirus. It has to stop the bad guys in their tracks.
Backup your files offline:
Use a 1-2-3 approach. 1 is for your computer. 2 is for a secure online solution. And 3 is for an external hard drive that does NOT stay connected to the Internet. The external hard drive should be stored in a safe place as well.
Use 2 step verification when possible:
This will make your phone a vital part of the log in process. No phone, no log in. Hackers will not get your phone without expending a lot of energy.
Now I realize that there are more issues that face business, but these six are very common mistakes that small business owners are making on a regular basis. And these mistakes should avoided. Remember that it is your business and that your time is money. You should spend your time right in the beginning instead of fixing messes after the fact.
Make sure there is a GEEK in your life somewhere. They are the new ROCK Stars of Security. Have a question, please ask. Be safe out there!