3 Tips to Help Prevent Small Business Security Threats

Posted August 07, 2012

Written by Jill Billhorn

Despite increased awareness about security threats and significant attention to prevention, cybersecurity breaches are still on the rise.  According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, data breaches have more than doubled since 2009.  As businesses continue to adopt mobile technology, such as tablets and smartphones, thwarting possible security threats is something no business -- big or small -- can risk ignoring.

A recent survey from Symantec and Applied Intelligence notes that small businesses with little or no security solutions and policies in place can face losses of $126,000 a year; that’s a hit from which few businesses can easily recover.  Beyond the financial impact, security breaches can result in irreparable damage to a business’s reputation and consumer trust due to the loss and exposure of customer and financial records, intellectual property and company practices.

Protecting business and customer data does not have to drain your company’s bank account.  There are simple, cost-effective steps that you can take to ensure small business security and protection from outside and inside threats alike.

Think about P@ssWORD 3ecur!ty

Passwords are still an important element to securing access to a business’s records and network.The challenge is that end-user passwords are often weak, shared by multiple employees, and saved on everything from sticky notes to personal devices that can be lost or easily stolen.

A lax password policy can be a huge weakness in a business’s security strategy, leaving it open to leaks and hackers.  Instituting stricter policies regarding password creation and sharing can significantly improve security-- and it costs very little to set up.

Train Your Employees

Let's be honest -- everyone enjoys the occasional chain email, but we each know someone who insists on forwarding every hoax or iPhone giveaway they receive. Compounding the problem, phishing scams can be very sophisticated and hard to recognize.


Forwarding email messages may not seem like a security threat, but clicking on unidentified URLs or downloading unauthorized software can be, and it puts your network at risk to Trojan or malware attacks.

Though it may be time-intensive, it is critical that small businesses regularly conduct basic computer security training with employees.  Educate your employees on the latest security issues, and teach them to correctly identify potential threats that can compromise your business.

Limit Access and Sources of Entry

Every desktop, notebook and mobile device is a possible entry point into your organization’s network, which can leave you open and vulnerable to security threats.  Limiting the degree of access that employees helps make your organization safer and more secure.

Consider limiting file or server access to only the employees who legitimately need to access the information. Does every employee need access to customer invoices or payment records Limiting access as a preventative measure is great insurance against potential damage should a threat make it through your organization's safeguards. Protecting your system and network doesn't have to be a huge investment.  By taking steps to educate your entire organization -- before trouble strikes -- and taking extra care to protect sensitive areas that may provide easy access for threats, you can keep your business, and your business-critical information, safe and secure.

Jill Billhorn is the vice president of small business at CDW.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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