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Keep Your Business Safe From Cyber Threats

5 data security myths and truths to effectively reduce cybervulnerability.

Running your business’s sales operations from the cloud can be a convenient and cost-effective way to manage accounts and generate revenues. But an unsuspecting sales force may increase the risk of experiencing a cyberattack or network intrusion if you — and your employees — don’t understand your vulnerabilities.

“Cyberthreats are a very real problem for small businesses,” says Robert Siciliano, author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity was Stolen and fraud prevention specialist with “This is why educating and training your employees about cybersecurity is paramount.”

Think you know what it takes to keep your business safe? Here are five myths that could be leaving your data exposed.

Myth one: Small businesses are safe from data breaches. All companies have vulnerable data. “Every business is a target regardless of size,” Siciliano says. Credit card numbers, employee Social Security numbers, proprietary data, trade secrets — even bank accounts — can be accessed. Hiring a company or consultant who specializes in data security could be a worthwhile investment, Siciliano suggests. They can test your current system by attempting to infiltrate your network and alerting you to areas that need to be shored up.

Myth two: Your employees are not a threat. Like many bosses, you’d like to think your salespeople won’t cause detrimental harm to your online system. However, honest mistakes can happen that adversely affect your company. For example, a salesperson could inadvertently turn off a firewall, giving network access to a cyberintruder. Then, there are more sinister attacks. “There can be malicious intent by disgruntled employees,” says Siciliano. Or a hacker could apply for a job with your company just to gain access to the network. To prevent this, perform background checks on potential employees and purchase monitoring software to observe what employees are doing online.

Myth three: All data security begins online. While there are many online risks, data security should start within the walls of your company. “The desktops must be secure, the perimeter protected and video cameras should be installed,” says Siciliano. Make sure passwords are not left in the open, filing cabinets are locked, and computers are password-protected when unattended. Be aware of unfamiliar people and request credentials from visitors. Finally, enlist a locksmith or security expert to install access control devices.

Myth four: Employees are properly trained on security risks. Since technology is ever evolving, education should also be continually revised and applied. “Training is ongoing, perpetual, and forever,” says Siciliano. Have seminars and workshops on how to spot online phishing scams and other data breaches. Plan fake phishing attacks and have training and tests for employees “duped” into clicking onto “malicious” e-mail. Give random quizzes quarterly to serve as refresher courses.

Myth five: Shredding sales force documents will protect your company. A shredder may protect you from “dumpster divers” but hackers may access your data from the inside. While you should shred, online data protection and information security should be paramount.

After you’ve separated the myths from reality, you can focus on educating your sales team on keeping data safe. “Once employees go through an initial training program, it’s up to company leaders to make sure employees retain this information and, more importantly, apply it,” says Siciliano.

Want to learn more savvy business strategies? Take a look at our business resource center. And, one of the smartest business decisions you can make is being proactive about protection. Connect with an agent today to learn about customized coverage for your business.

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Related Topics: Digital , Finance