QUESTION: It seems that every day I read about someone who is the victim of internet hackers. What is the best way to protect my small business from these scoundrels?

ANSWER: You are wise to address the problem of hackers.

The threats are very real and growing for both large and small businesses. Although hackers are quite ingenious, there are ways to prevent you from falling prey to them.

Buy insurance:

  • Cyber liability insurance is designed to protect your business from cybersecurity threats. If there is a breach, you could be held liable, and with the right coverage your legal costs will be covered.

Update your software:

  • Old, outdated software makes it easy for the bad guys to access confidential information. Also make sure you know who has access to your servers.

Purchase the best security available:

  • Using firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware software is an absolute must, especially if your business relies on its own servers to run its website and other operations online.

Beware of attachments:

  • Never download an attachment or click on a link unless you recognize the sender. And even if you recognize the sender, double check and call the sender to confirm its authenticity.

Back up your files:

  • No system is completely secure, so if you back up your files daily, you will still have access to them, even if you are hacked.

Devise strong passwords:

  • Consider using a password management tool that stores and encrypts your unique password information. They eliminate the worry of remembering individual passwords every time you log in on a site.

Train your employees:

  • Your team members should be trained how to stay safe when connecting to the internet, using email or working remotely. They should never share sensitive information with someone they don’t know.

If you are still unsure how to go about protecting your small business from cyberthreats, the Small Business Administration offers a free online course you can access at https://www.sba.gov/tools/learning-center-view-course/743081.

The Federal Communications Commission offers information and resources on the subject. You can even get started creating your own customized cybersecurity plan at https://www.fcc.gov/cyberplanner.

Also consider reaching out to your local SCORE chapter. Their volunteer mentors have a wide range of expertise and experience in helping entrepreneurs solve their problems and grow their businesses.

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Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Richmond Chapter of SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business. To ask a question or request free and confidential business counseling, go to Richmond.score.org/mentors. Learn more about SCORE’s workshops on the website or by calling (804) 350-3569.

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