Online securityFor the first three months of 2018 and again in 2020, Integrated Media Strategies has been working with SCORE Raleigh to help small businesses improve their online security. In an increasingly-connected world, small businesses are vulnerable to a range of malicious attacks. And because of this connectedness, an intrusion in one area can translate into a much broader problem. A successful malicious attack can be terminal to a small business.

Many small business owners are focused on doing what they need to do to keep their business running and may not have online security expertise.  They may not know, for example, that a hack of the business router exposes the entire network to the intruder and can result in snooping, gathering of bank account passwords and the injection of ransomware.They may also think that because they are a small business, it isn't worth trying to hack them. They won't necessarily know that bots do most of the work and crawl the web looking for vulnerabilities.  If they have these vulnerabilities, they could make the hacker that bought the code some money.

So if a small business isn't keeping the computers and hardware up to date, they can be infected with a worm that then subsequently might upload itself to the company website during website content editing, resulting in the website being blacklisted. A blacklisted site can result in a loss of sales if it is an eCommerce site, or a loss of confidence by potential clients.

We are also seeing the growth of the Internet of Things (Iot). Many of these so-called smart products have poor security, and when connected to a business network, provide a straightforward entry point to a hacker or even a bot. Is having an app-controlled coffeemaker really worth putting your business at risk?  We provide ways for companies to assess whether they want a smart TV or some other device on their network. 

With smartphones carrying apps now the norm rather than the exception, visitors to your premises connecting to your network may also compromise your security unless your network is set up properly. An app with a side-loaded trojan being used by a corporate employee on the network can also expose account information and other assets.  You should know what you should be doing to prevent this kind of unintentional use from negatively impacting your company.

As alarming as all of these issues are, the good news to small business owners is that following straightforward, good practices can eliminate much of the risk. For the rest, having an effective backup plan can restore security failures quickly and with little downtime.

In our biweekly seminar series with SCORE, we cover the following areas:

  • How your hardware, online marketing and business files are all connected
  • Your router and network
  • IoT and smarphones
  • Computer and other hardware
  • Password management
  • Backups
  • Email – how it works, and how it works for hackers
  • The nasties - malware, scams, ransomware, phishing, and worse
  • What you need to do to secure your website
  • Ownership of online infrastructure and properties

If you believe you may be at risk or don't have security practices in place at your small business, contact us for a review. We also provide coaching in these areas so that you are able to run your business safely and securely.  Or we can offer your business an online seminar to provide you with the baseline from which to start your own internal assessment.

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