Protect business finances from cyber attack

A recent report indicates that small- and medium-size businesses are increasingly targeted by cyber criminals due to the perception that they employ less robust IT security measures than large corporations, says Sue Smythe of CMIT Solutions Everett.

Though small businesses generally have les

s money in their accounts than larger companies, they also tend to have more money than individuals, making it a still-attractive target for hackers. Compounding the problem, the proliferation of easy-to-use hacking toolkits allows even novice cyber criminals to do what was once limited to highly skilled hackers.

One common toolkit installs a small piece of malware on an unwitting machine that silently logs user names and passwords. Once obtained, the hacker cleans out the victim’s bank account — something that has meant the end for more than a few small businesses.

To ensure protection, small-business owners need to implement strict security practices. Install security software that is regularly and automatically updated to defend against new viruses and other malware. Do this for each and every machine.

Explain to your employees the importance of following security procedures. After all, their job may very well depend upon it. Many users view security procedures as an annoyance rather than a vital safety measure. Also, explain to your employees what is and isn’t appropriate use of company computers.

Thumb drives in particular expose your company network to risk. If an employee has an infected machine at home, the malware could easily copy itself to a thumb drive, which could then infect the company network.

Dedicate one machine to the task of online banking. Set the security software’s settings to maximum, and don’t use that computer for surfing the Web or reading email. Disconnect it from the Internet completely when it’s not in use and configure it to perform frequent, automatic system scans.

The most important measure, however, is to have the necessary safeguards in place before a breach occurs. Even the best security software out there can’t help you much after the fact.

Sue Smythe, www.cmitsolutions.com/everett; 425-374-2436, everett@cmitsolutions.com.

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