In today's world, businesses of all sizes use online technology for retail, marketing, banking, and other needs. While you often hear about cybercrime involving large companies, cyberattacks on small businesses are increasing. In 2016, 43 percent of all cyberattacks worldwide were targeted at small businesses with less than 250 employees, according to the cybersecurity firm Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report.
What Is Cybercrime and Cybersecurity?
Cybercrime is criminal activity involving the internet, a computer system, or computer technology. One in five small- to medium-sized businesses, or 20 percent, have been targeted, and nearly half of online adults have been cybercrime victims in the past year. According to Symantec, 60 percent of small businesses will go out of business within six months of a cyberattack. Some experts estimate that cybercrime costs the global economy as much as $500 billion annually.
Cybersecurity is measures that can be taken to protect a computer or computer system against unauthorized access or attack. While no technology or software program can stop or prevent every cyberattack, individuals and small business owners can take basic precautions to significantly reduce their risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime.
Top Ten Cybersecurity Tips
Chris May, an information security consultant with Advantage Technology, recommends the following measures for entrepreneurs and small business owners:
1. Have the Right Mindset. Always think of yourself as a possible target. Be suspicious of every interaction you have on the internet, including every email, every website that asks for personal information, and every free app on your phone. Give every interaction a second look.
2. Use Unique Passwords. Create unique passwords by including the name of the website in the password itself. Start with your regular password and then add the website name to the end, which will result in a unique password for each site that is easy to remember.
3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication. Use two-factor authentication for any service that offers it. Two-factor authentication requires two things: something you have and something you know. For example, accessing an account would require a fingerprint scan (something you have) and a password (something you know).
4. Lock Your Device. Always lock your device with a password, PIN number, or biometric scan such as a fingerprint or facial recognition. Your devices could contain all the information a cybercriminal would need to steal your identity.
5. Never Leave Your Device. Never leave your device unattended in a public place. A stolen laptop or cell phone can be a treasure trove of identity information for a skilled cybercriminal and are hot commodities on the black market.
6. Update Your Software. Keep your software current. Whether it's your cell phone, computer, or even a program that you use frequently, don't ignore security patches. Patch early and often.
7. Call a Friend. If you receive an email from a friend or colleague that looks suspicious, call the person and verify that he/she sent it, especially if the email says they are trapped somewhere and can't receive phone calls.
8. No Personal Information Via Email. Be suspicious of any official-looking email that asks for personal information such as a bank account or Social Security number. Legitimate organizations will not ask for any personal information in an email, including usernames or passwords.
9. Secure Your Wi-Fi. Protect your home or business by securing your network. Make sure your Wi-Fi network is secure, hidden, and password-protected.
10. Don't use Public Wi-Fi. Never use public Wi-Fi networks. You have no way of knowing about the security of such networks, and cybercriminals often use public Wi-Fi to access unsuspecting victims. Use your own mobile hotspot or personal hotspot on your cell phone instead.