By Rieva Lesonsky
There’s no such thing as doing too much to keep your digital data safe from hackers, viruses or accidental human error. Think about it: what if all your crucial documents were compromised by a cleverly disguised email? Imagine your latest small business loan documents, or business line of credit account information and the classified information contained in them now in the hands of some hackers. Hopefully you’ve only heard the horror stories and have not been a victim. Here are some basic reminders on how to protect your business’s important data.
Change your passwords often. We’ve all gotten suspicious emails asking us to change our passwords. Hopefully, we’re all smart enough not to react, but it shows how important strong passwords are as a first line of defense. A strong password will at least ward off intruders looking for easy access. Small business owners can also password protect individual folders or even files with your most important data. Look for these settings in System Preferences and in the file and folder preferences. Or check out file encryption software. If you consider biometric security, you can get this type of hardware in various forms, such as face recognition, retina scan, hand geometry and fingerprint scan. Biometrics is completely individual and uses physical traits that never change to enable access.
Antivirus programs: Harmful programs containing viruses, spyware and adware are out there waiting for you to let your guard down. Don’t rely on the firewall and virus protection software that comes free with your computer. If you’re not paying a subscription fee to get the latest protection updates, then it’s probably not enough. As new viruses surface, you need to be notified and your computer system automatically updated. The top anti-virus programs are Microsoft Forefront, Symantec’s Norton Security, and McAfee. Also, firewalls put up a line of protection between your business and the Internet. The latest Windows and Mac operating systems both offer built-in firewall software, but many people disable them because the systems tend to inhibit the computer from doing some basic functions. Check your security settings to make sure the system is turned on.
The back-up system. Most important is to ensure you are consistently backing up everything on your computer on a regular basis. In case of a fatal virus, a disaster such as fire or human error (if you or an employee accidently delete an important file) your backup system is the easiest place to go to recover all your data. If you back up to an external hard drive make sure it’s stored offsite. Better yet, subscribe to an online backup service such as Carbonite that will regularly access and back up your computer so you never have to think about it.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports