The internet is the lifeline for many businesses today when it comes to networking and marketing to larger consumer markets, computer-based tools that assist workload efficiency, documentation of accounts, invoicing, and more. As much as the internet offers, however, it can just as easily allow cyber criminals to take away and ruin an entrepreneur’s hard work. The internet isn’t any safer than the real world, and there are real threats that can expose a business’ secrets and strip their resources. Whether an entrepreneur is using the cloud or a simple email account and website, there should be strict data security methods in place.
Digital theft is notoriously harder to trace, which is why it’s becoming increasingly more prevalent. In today’s unsafe digital world, businesses must compete not only in product sales, but in secure transactions when purchasing online. Here are a few security suggestions every entrepreneur should know:
Be Cautious of Wi-Fi
Every entrepreneur should know the convenience Wi-Fi brings, as well as the threats that await in insecure networks. Wi-Fi is configured using a wireless adapter to create a “hotspot.” Once a connection is established, users within range of the hotspot can connect to the internet network. These networks, however, given the place where the connection is established, are either “open” or “closed.”
Open networks are typically found in public hotspot areas like coffee shops, airports, and libraries. These networks usually don’t require passwords to gain internet access and shouldn’t be used to conduct important business and personal transactions involving money or opening/sending/receiving confidential information. It doesn’t mean all open Wi-Fi networks are infested with cyberthreats, but users are more likely to encounter one than in a closed network. This is why it’s best used for casual browsing — things like social media, YouTube, blogs, etc.
Wi-Fi found in homes or in private company offices are typically closed networks. Closed networks may require a strong passcode to gain internet access, and many companies that have had close encounters with security threats will often stay cautious by rotating to a different passcode bi-weekly. These networks are where confidential information can be stored and exchanged with an unlikely chance of a data breach.
Keep Up With Cloud Security Standards
Giant, billion-dollar companies like Amazon, IBM and Microsoft will be caught giving away free money before they are caught without up-to-date cloud security standards. This type of security — like SOC 2, HIPAA and FedRAMP — undergoes regular updates and provides the necessary tools to detect and respond to threats, should they occur.
Security is undoubtedly a top concern when managing digital transactions. According to Villanova University, “Strengthening cyber security begins with keeping all software and hardware up to date and engaging in regular Cloud maintenance.” These top security programs can justly expose past privacy breaches, incidents of data loss/leakage or other risks that could potentially harm business and customer information.
Educate and Invest in Security Software
There was a 400 percent increase in cyber attacks during the 2016 U.S. tax season according to the IRS. This is merely a sliver of where online phishing and malware attacks are occurring. There is never the “right” time to invest in a good cyber security; these attacks aren’t seasonal. They happen year round, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays.
The best security software in the world still won’t stop some cyber attacks. Invest not only good money on good software, but also time to teach employees, family, and fellow entrepreneurs the threats that exist online. The time and effort taken aside for research may very well be the deciding factor whether a business will survive an attack or fall victim. Many companies don’t realize they’re insufficiently prepared for an attack until it happens.
Unfortunately, most online attacks go unreported. If a thousand different companies were attacked online at the same time, only a handful of them would inform the public of their loss. This in turn means very few online criminals are tracked down and caught — while the rest are left unbothered.
As an entrepreneur, and a contributor to the global economy, securing company data and client information is a step toward protecting yourself and the company. Taking the extra step to educate employees and encourage fellow entrepreneurs to invest in cybersecurity — not only in the software, but by sharing their stories to raise awareness — will put out a global message to scammers.