No business is too small to worry about fraud and other intrusions.
“Ransomware” is one of the most recent tactics that hackers have employed. It’s just what it sounds like: You give us some money and we give you back control of your computer(s) and access to your data. Many, many small businesses have been hit with this demand over the last couple of years.
You might think that hackers would go after companies with deeper pockets. They undoubtedly do, but big businesses have lots of money and staff and other resources to spend on computer and network security. The bad guys find easier targets in smaller organizations—sometimes, even one-person shops—that may not be as careful about keeping their systems locked up tight.
Ransomware is just one of the intrusions you have to worry about as a small business owner or manager. Malevolence can come from within as well as from some unknown external source. Whatever its origin, you’ve heard enough horror stories about companies that have been forced to shut down because of a hacker’s actions. Don’t be one of them.
Eyes Are Everywhere
You trust your employees or you wouldn’t have hired them – especially those who have access to your financial data. But staff can inadvertently let an intruder in, especially if they’re working with your accounting records remotely. So,
Rule #1: Instruct staff to restrict their work on mobile devices to private locations. Granted, one of the advantages of remote access is its portability. Employees can catch up on work in a coffee shop or on the train or at some other public venue. But ask that they not do so.
Request the same kind of watchfulness in the office, too, if you have more than a few employees and/or your business is open to visitors. Computer screens should not be visible to anyone but their users.
Rule #2: Enlist expert help securing your network. You already know how important it is to have trusted, reliable antivirus and malware applications on individual computers. If you have a network that has more than a couple of connections and you don’t have an IT pro on staff, spend some money on external monitoring.
Rule #3: Assign user permissions to accounting software or manual systems with great care. Accounting applications, both desktop and web-based, make it easy to restrict users to specific areas that are password-protected. Manual accounting systems are harder to protect; you don’t have to enter the correct combination of letters and numbers to go through a filing cabinet after hours or open a drawer. Try to secure critical data by locking it away. Tell employees who work with financial information that they shouldn’t leave confidential papers sitting out when they’re not at their desks.
Rule #4: Create reports regularly.
Businesses often find discrepancies when reports are run. This is easy if you’re using an accounting solution, but not so much if you’re not. Let us know if you’re still doing your accounting manually and would like to talk about the benefits of computerizing your finances. We can help you select an application and get up and running.
Stock images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net