Keeping data secure is a must for every small business. While many small businesses feel that they are safe, or immune, from today’s cyber criminals, they are not. New threats arise every day, and savvy hackers are finding new ways of taking advantage of those who are not protected.
Imagine this scenario: you are super busy at work and behind on reviewing and answering emails. Hurriedly, you open, read, and delete your messages. Then suddenly, you come to an email from your cousin, and she says to open the attachments to see photos from her baby shower. You think, “Oh I feel bad that I was not there and cannot wait to see the photos …”
Then you click on the link.
The next thing you see on your screen is a warning saying that “We are now in control. We are holding your data ransom unless you pay us $1,000.” You have entered a data security nightmare, and you do not know how to get out.
This scenario may sound like a scene from a movie, but it is not. This happens every single day to businesses all across the world. In fact, over 4,000 business get their data hijacked and held hostage per day.
While you might think, “Well, that will not be our company! We have our data stored on our hard drives.” Unless you take the appropriate actions to prevent it, this could be you.
I recently chatted with Norman Guadagno, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Chief Evangelist at Carbonite, a cloud-based backup provider. He shared that the number of hijacks/ransoms has gone up over 300% in the last year. This has set him on a course to help teach companies how to protect their data and avoid the scenario we mentioned above.
Make sure you listen to our whole interview below and check out some of the basic advice and tips he shared to help today's small business owners.
3 Steps Small Business Owners Can Take to Prevent Security Threats
1. Educate Your Employees on Security Practices
Norman stressed that it is vital that companies educate all of their employees about how to spot a fake email or anything suspicious or inconsistent. Further, it is imperative to that they know to never to click on links in emails unless it is something they are expecting. Hackers can create convincing and realistic emails, so even if they get an email from someone they know, tell them to pick up the phone and call that person to make sure they were the ones who sent the link and/or attachment before they take any further action.
2. Backup Your Data
Ideally, small businesses should have a secure cloud-based solution for backup. With this technology in place, you can restore your data with a click of a button if you do run into any security threats.
In the case of ransomware, often the FBI or police cannot help you. If you have a cloud backup, then you do not have to worry about paying the ransom or getting the FBI involved, since you can simply retrieve all of your data instantly.
3. Disconnect Immediately If You Are Attacked
Even if you only think you might be infected or have experienced a security threat or breach, disconnect your computer from the network right away.
Just like a human virus can spread from person to person, a computer virus can spread from computer to computer very easily and quickly. So immediately disconnect to prevent this from happening. Once disconnected, you can contact an expert to help you identify any possible threats and remove them.
How to properly backup your system and data can be a bit confusing. Common questions are: (1) Isn’t doing a hard drive backup manually once a week good enough?, (2) Where is my data?, or (3) Who owns my data?
Norman helped us clarify this mystery:
Automated Backup Provides Peace of Mind
If a small business has a manual backup system in place, such as saving to a hard drive once a week, they are still at great risk. Why? First, we all get busy and sometimes we just forget or don’t have time to do everything. If you fail to run a backup manually, you are creating large gaps in your data. Second, even if you are diligent about backing data up once a week, you still run the risk of losing days of data if you get hit. Third, the process of retrieving and replacing data can be time-consuming.
With an automated backup system in place, like those provided by Carbonite, your data is backed up automatically on a regular schedule. You simply set it and forget it. Beyond that, if you were to experience a security breach, your data can be retrieved and replaced with the click of a button
Cloud-Based Backup Systems Are Secure
Many small business owners worry about security in a cloud-based environment. As Norman explains, many of today’s cloud-based providers are providing extremely secure, encrypted environments, but every business owner should do their due diligence and ask any provider exactly what type of security they provide.
All in all, Norman could not stress enough the importance of educating your employees on safe security practices. Your data is one of the most valuable assets in your business and losing it could have significant consequences on not only your viability but also your reputation in your marketplace. Taking the proper steps to ensure that your data is secure and backed up will go a long way in protecting you from any security threats and today’s cyber crimes.