Protecting Your Small Business from Cyber Crime

Posted on September 23, 2009

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On Monday, September 14, 2009, the Associated Press reported that, increasingly, small businesses are the target of cyber criminals. According to the AP, many of the attacks are based abroad and include the theft of credit card numbers as well as of personal information–social security numbers included–of the card holders.

Michael Merritt, Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service’s Office of Investigations, stated that because larger companies have more money, and therefore more advanced security systems, criminals have adapted and gone after smaller amounts from smaller companies, who may not have as strong security systems in place.

So how can small businesses protect themselves from this heightened threat? Merritt and Phil Reitinger of the Department of Homeland Security both stated that government agencies are working to coordinate more with each other and with the private sector to improve cyber security. But what can you, as the end-user, do to protect your own company? No cyber-genius myself, a cursory review of Internet remedies suggests the following:

  1. Reconcile all of your cash accounts daily. Business banking remedies differ from personal banking remedies. In a personal account, you have 60 days to contest any charges you may wish to dispute. However, the UCC controls business banking remedies and allows businesses only 48 hours to contest any questionable charges.
  2. Be careful what you download. If you are downloading from an unknown site, this is a risk. Download only materials from trusted sources.
  3. Increase your password safety. Alphanumerics that spell an actual word, be it a pet’s name or your favorite flavor of ice cream, are the easiest passwords to hack. Make sure that your passwords include both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation symbols. The less logical sense your password makes, the better. And, make sure to change your passwords frequently.
  4. Check out more tips from the Secret Service. (See Cyber Security Tips)

I am looking forward to any additional tips readers may have for protecting small business from cyber crime. For more info, read the full AP article here.

Mike Goodrich, Goodrich Law Firm

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