How Small Businesses Can Prevent Cybercrime

Although hackers are cunning and always devising new ways to commit crimes, successful attacks are frequently the result of user error. Ignorance, carelessness or disregard for basic cybersecurity safeguards are often at the root of data theft and other cybercrimes.

You can minimize the risk that your business (or you personally) will be a victim of a cybercrime by implementing these strategies:

Use Firewalls and Antivirus Software to Protect Your Devices

Your computers, smartphones and tablet should all be protected with good antivirus software no matter what operating system they use. Be sure that you check for updates regularly and renew the antivirus software subscription each year. If you have multiple devices (as most people do) look for virus software that will protect more than one device on a single subscription.

Protect Your Computer and Mobile Devices from Unauthorized Access

Use strong password or biometrics to help lock out unauthorized users. If you fail to do so, losing your computer or mobile device could allow someone access to all the data, contacts, and links you have stored on the system. Similarly, in an office, anyone who could get near a computer could gain access to its data if it’s not password protected.

Avoid Easy-to-Guess Passwords

To keep cybercriminals out you need to create strong passwords that are unique for each device you use and each service or site you access. Don’t use your name, business name or other words that someone wanting to break into your system might guess. Ideally, your passwords should be at least 8 characters long and contain a mixture of uppercase, lower case, numerical and other characters. If you’re using WordPress, the software can generate a strong password for you. If you think you’ll forget the passwords, use password management software. The antivirus software you use may include a password manager.0

Don’t Fall for Fear Tactics

“Websites with malware are a major source of infection (more than email),” says Brian LaBone, Senior Support Technician at Infoquest Technologies. “Pop-up messages on a website that say your computer is infected and that you should call an 800 number are still fooling consumers.” If you get a popup of that type, do not call the 800 number, he advises. “Close your browser window, restart your computer and clear your browsing history.”

Do not call the 800 number in the popup even if you can’t close the web browser or if the popup shows up again when you restart your computer. Calling the 800 number will put you through to a criminal who will guide you through steps that will let them gain remote access to your computer. It’s after you give them that access that they plant the malware or virus on your system. If you can’t get the popup to go away on your own, call in a reputable IT person from a local company.  


Use a VPN

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. What a VPN does is encrypt the information sent to or from your device to prevent others from gaining access to it or seeing what you type or where you go on the Internet. Using a VPN is essential for security if you’re using public WiFi. It’s also advisable if you use RDP (remote desktop protocol) to log into a remote computer.

Be Careful What You Click and Open

Don’t click on links from people you don’t know, and don’t click on links in email or social media from people you do know if the link or context is something you wouldn’t expect from the individual. (A strange link from a friend or acquaintance may mean their account has been hacked.) Similarly, don’t open attachments from people you know, and don’t open attachments you don’t expect from those you do know. If unsure, pick up the telephone and call your acquaintance to see if they sent you something with an attachment.

Watch out for emails that contain links to accounts or services you regularly use, too. It’s not unusual for hackers to impersonate legitimate companies and organizations. Often they’ll pretend to alert your to purchase or tell you your account has been compromised, and that you need to click a link to get or give more information. Don’t do it. If you think the email might be legitimate, open a browser and manually type in the URL you normally use to access that service (ie, don’t use the link in the email). Or call the institution to find out if they really did send the email.

If you receive a Facebook private message from a friend with a link that seems suspicious or out of character, think twice before you click the link. One common tactic hackers use is, once they have compromised a friend’s Facebook account, they send out private messages to all of the people in that person’s friends list containing a link that appears to be a video of you, but which is actually a link that downloads malware to your computer. 

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a means by which a second layer of security is added to prevent illegal access to accounts or systems. The way it works is that after someone logs into an account and enters the correct username and password, they will then be required to type in a verification code that is sent to a device the owner of that account possesses (a cell phone number or email address, for instance). If they don’t correctly enter the verification code that is sent to that device, they will be denied access to the account. Thus, if a hacker guesses or steals a username and password, they wouldn’t be able to access an account protected by two-factor authentication unless they also had access to the device to which the verification code is sent.

Backup Your Devices

Backing up all your files, photos and data on a regular basis may help prevent a disaster if you are hacked. If you have regular backups, your local tech support person (i.e., someone you know and trust) will be able to help you clear your device(s) and then restore files from a point before you were hacked.

Written by nigeriahow

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