If you kept up with the Internet news in 2013, you probably heard about the serious problem with hackers gaining access to Facebook and Twitter accounts in addition to other social media networks. Several Fortune 500 companies also suffered from hackers' attacks.
While not all of them lost sensitive or confidential information, it once again drove the point home of the vulnerability of most businesses to the attacks by hackers, viruses, and malware.
A report by National Cyber Security Alliance says that if you own a small business, you have a 20 percent chance of getting hacked. One in five will become a victim each year.
Still not sure how serious it is? Out of those who are attacked, about 60 percent will go out of business within six months of the breach.
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Damage hacking does
The most obvious issue is the loss of money when you discover all of your funds have disappeared from your accounts. While this often happens to individuals, it can also happen to companies.
Another problem comes with the breach of confidential data.
When hackers gain access to personal information about customers or clients or discover account numbers and other data, a business often loses credibility. People are afraid to trust their information to that company even if they never personally suffered a loss.
Just hearing about a breach of data will often send customers right to your competitor. Their theory is if it happened once, it could happen again.
Protect your business
In the past, many small businesses thought they weren't big enough to be on hackers' radar. However, with more automated systems, everyone is vulnerable. It is important to take every precaution to protect your company from the threat of hackers.
Make sure every device is protected, especially if your staff take their devices home with them or bring devices from home to work. Use high-quality protection software, and make sure it is updated on a regular basis so that it can catch the latest spyware and viruses.
Train all of your employees on how to be safe in everything they do.
Make sure they understand the purpose of strong passwords and how to create one. Teach them not to open attachments until they are scanned.
They also should never follow a link from an unknown source. Teach them about scams such as phishing so they know how to recognize them.
It might even be beneficial to have IT professionals come in to train staff and teach them about internet safety. Sometimes hearing information from experts can have a lasting effect, especially if it includes stories of what happens when hackers get into a system.
It is essential that you are aware of the threats to your business and that you take precautions with every aspect of your company. Don't assume that you are safe because with today's technology no one is safe.
If you are attacked by hackers, the chances increase that your business will no longer exist in six months.
About the author
Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including SEO and how to receive a computer degree online.