Top 10

Email scams, financial fraud, computer hacking, online identity theft and information piracy can be nightmares for business owners. As technology continues to evolve, cyber threats grow in sophistication and complexity, and have the power to destroy a company’s finances and reputation. 

1. Password management. Require employees to select strong, complex passwords for their company devices. Aim for at least eight characters with a capital letter and symbol included. 

2. Protect sensitive data. Keep data such as employee records, SSNs, health and credit card information off laptops and mobile devices. If you need to transfer sensitive data, always use an encryption service. 

3. Secure your WiFi. Be sure to create a separate WiFi network for your customers. Allowing guests to access your corporate WiFi can open up your network to risks like malware. 

4. Update security software. Many software programs will automatically update to new versions, but it’s good to check in quarterly to ensure you have the latest version installed. Keeping your security software current is a great line of defense against viruses and malware. 

5. Secure your website. Hackers are invisible and fast, and can be detrimental, especially if your website houses customer details and credit card information. Ensure your website is protected by a web application firewall or security applications.

6. Back up your data. If you don’t do so already, it is imperative that you back up data on a regular basis in case you are a victim of cybercrime and need to erase and re-install your data. 

7. Monitor accounts. Keep a careful watch on your accounts—especially financial—for unusual or unauthorized activity. If you know you are a victim of cybercrime, freeze your accounts and contact the authorities immediately. 

8. Travel smart. When traveling for work, remember to disable Bluetooth on your mobile device when not in use, as nearby hackers can gain access to your device through Bluetooth. Devices with older operating systems are more vulnerable to these attacks.

9. Offer training. Help your employees recognize email scams and better protect company data by offering training in person or through webinars. Regular trainings will equip employees with the right tools and knowledge to quickly detect a threat and respond according to industry best practices. 

10. Create an incident response plan. Create a plan for if your business does become a victim of cybercrime. Include instructions for employees to elevate the incident, such as clicking on a harmful URL, to the next level of leadership or IT personnel.

Larry Silver is the director for Cox Business mid-market and security sales in Arizona.