3 Ways to Protect Yourself or Your Small Business From Security Threats

There’s no denying that security threats to data are a constant problem to businesses. Criminal hackers are always looking for ways to get at valuable data for their own shady reasons. At least a few times a year we hear about a large online company’s account list being leaked. Or we hear about services being hacked. If this happens to large companies, it can surely happen to small businesses or even individuals.

3-ways-to-protect-yourself-or-your-small-business-from-security-threats

Unfortunately, hackers will never stop trying. A business may feel like they have no choice but to lock down data behind the digital equivalent of Fort Knox. When this happens, hackers mentally note the business as being not worth their time, then move on to easier targets. All it takes on your part is understanding where potential threats exist, then addressing them.

Prevent Data Breaches

This is the biggest threat to database security faced by companies. Somehow, some way, a hacker manages to get into the database and grab all the sensitive information like usernames, account passwords, and other sensitive data. There are times when a hacker is so subtle that the company doesn’t know about the theft until long after the fact. But  is there good news in all this? There is: It’s preventable.

Put internal IT people to work on finding weak points, and consider retaining an outside company to test your systems. The internal IT people know where weaknesses lie, and the outside company will go to work to find them. Also, you should institute secure access points such as a cloud access security broker to monitor who is accessing what.

 

Don’t Use Weak Passwords

This was a big problem when I was working in IT support. Employees tend to use passwords and credentials that are easy to remember. Unfortunately, these are also easy to hack. There’s not a lot of effort involved in guessing common words, birthdays, and login names. Hackers have different means for finding out email addresses of employees and getting into their accounts. Sometimes they even use social engineering — for example, calling an employee at random to get the name of an email account. Teach your employees not to fall for it.

The best way around this type of attack is to use strong passwords. Usernames don’t really matter in the scheme of things, but passwords do. Make sure that employees create a password that uses both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. If they have trouble remembering a password, have them keep it safe on their smartphone or keep it written down in their wallet. Make sure that they know the importance of never letting anyone learn their password and of locking their information down tight.

 

Fix Poor API Integration

APIs, or application programming interfaces, are strings of code that allow programs to talk to one another. You probably use APIs and you don’t even realize it. Several Internet apps and plugins that run our blogs may be using an API. A company that uses an API across multiple OS platforms (iOS, Android, Windows) needs to make sure that everything connects together seamlessly. Bad coding gives a criminal hacker the opportunity to exploit the software and find his or her way into the database to which the API gives access.

Make sure to stress-test the API before it goes live. Have the developer go through it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that everything is locked down and that there’s no bad code to exploit.

These are just some of the security breaches that a business can defeat with proper planning and execution. Finding weak points and then applying fixes is one of the best ways to keep information in and criminals out.

Kris McDonald is Chicago mom to 2 sets of twins, photography nut, gadget addict, travel addict, and tech blogger who has worked in IT for over 16 years. Kris figured out a while ago that she was destined to be really busy (hence the 2 sets of twins), and she has found peace with that. Read More