Are you prepared for the next cyberattack?

These days it seems everyone has a smart phone. They are a great way to stay connected to friends and family, to check the latest news, and to record special moments that matter to you. But these aren’t just for fun and games, many people now use their smart devices to bank online, to run their business and even to apply for a home loan over the web.

With these new conveniences comes new risks. We’ve all seen the reports of ransomware and hacking attacks lately. These hackers aren’t just going after major corporations, more and more they are targeting small business owners.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a cybersecurity workshop geared towards small business owners. Hosted by the National Cyber Security Alliance, the group used material developed in partnership with the Better Business Bureau.

I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but even I was surprised by the new ways hackers are going after data. The most troubling aspect? Many small business owners are making major mistakes and in the process allowing those hackers to breach their systems with ease.

For example, what do you think the most common password is? According to the password management company Keeper Security, the most commonly used password is “123456.” If that seems like a joke, it isn’t. What’s more troubling, many business owners still use the same password for multiple sites. That is extremely risky. Hackers need only breach one password to access multiple accounts.

Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest encourages you to take inventory of your online safeguards. Do you have a simple password like “123456?” Do you use the same password for multiple webpages? If so, act now to secure yourself. We recommend you change passwords periodically. Write them down on a piece of paper, that way you won’t forget them, and hackers can’t access them.

The NCSA and BBB also recommend this five-step approach to cybersecurity for business owners:

• Identify. Document your assets, including all computers and hardware used. Keep track of the make, model and serial numbers for those devices. Locate all your key data where it is stored.

• Protect. Keep a clean machine by installing and updating security software regularly. Backup your systems and data often. Be sure not to store all your sensitive data on one device, that way if it is compromised; you won’t lose everything.

• Detect. Keep a close eye on that security software for any breaches or alerts. Also, consider training your employees so they know what attacks should be reported and encourage them to do so quickly.

• Respond. Utilize your backup devices so you can keep your business running. Do what you can to stop the attack if you’ve spotted it quickly enough, and reach out to tech and legal experts for help if it is a severe breach.

• Recover. Know what you need to do to get your business up and running again. Create a disaster recovery plan so you can react swiftly. Also, educate yourself on data breach requirements. Many states require business owners to alert their customers if their data is at risk.

Your BBB and NCSA hope you’ll follow this advice. A little work and preparation now can help you avoid a major headache later.


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