Web Security Basics: A Guide for Small Business Owners

Security begins at your business doorstep; every person you employ, technology deployments, and even vendor relationships can either strengthen your position or expose you to risk. Small businesses are often targets for malicious attacks because of the commonly held belief that they are easy marks. Developing a strategy early on is crucial so that you are not viewed as a piece of low hanging fruit.

Creating a Security Policy

  • Develop a suitable policy for your environment and train your personnel. While this may seem obvious, social engineering is a popular tool to fool the unaware. Why? Simply because it works and it’s reliable. Developing a policy that places information security first and disseminating that information through your personnel is the first line of defense against entities that wish your business harm.

One area you should pay particular attention to? Personal mobile devices. They are often the first stop for online criminals looking to steal sensitive information and must be addressed with appropriate regulations within your business.

Remember: Stagnant policy is just as bad as no policy at all. Your rules and regulations must be kept up to date and tailored to new threats as they arise.

  • Keep a clean house. Simply put–use reputable and up to date security software, operating systems, and regularly update everything. Trojan horses and other malicious programs completely defeat some of the most expensive hardware security solutions. Vigorously exercising these practices mitigates the risk of these attacks to a very large degree. By maintaining a clean house with a sensible policy, you’re already halfway to a secure business environment.
  • Deploy and utilize the right hardware for the right environment. If your business has outside access to the internet, you will need to implement a firewall. A firewall is a hardware device (or sometimes software) that will require regular maintenance, but it is absolutely crucial to keep unwanted traffic outside of your business. Firewalls can be expensive depending on the size and scope of the business, and the talent required to configure and maintain this hardware can be expensive as well–but it’s worth it.

Some businesses may find it more feasible to outsource this solution to an expert services provider at a much-reduced cost, while others may prefer absolute control over their security implementations. The benefits are easily summarized; deploying your own hardware allows endless configurability while outsourcing can save a lot of time and money.

  • Control physical access. In a nutshell: limit access to server or computer rooms. Most employees don’t need to be in those areas as part of regular job duties–and there’s no reason they should ever be in there.

Anything with non-public information (NPI) must be strictly controlled with highly accountable access routines. Consider personal mobile devices and how they can be used to hijack valuable NPI data–adherence to access routines cannot waiver simply because you know or trust an employee.

  • Finally, consider hiring a security consultant to audit your business. Despite your best efforts, experts exist in this field for a couple of reasons:
  • The avenues of attack are wide, expansive, and ever changing
  • Your business will benefit from being audited regularly, regardless if you experienced any successful attacks or not
  • It helps ensure that any future attacks will not succeed
  • Public confidence is a difficult win but easily lost when it comes to personal information

Stay Ahead of Issues

A security consultant stays ahead of the game so you don’t have the burden of trying to be an expert yourself. The cost of a consultant versus the cost of public confidence is easy to work out; we only need to look at a few historical examples of trusted brands that quickly became irrelevant because security was somehow left out the business plan.

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