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Online Security and Small Businesses

August 15, 2014

In some ways, the internet has made the world a lot easier for new small businesses. Ordering your own supplies, allowing customers to place orders or make reservations, advertising your goods and services, payroll, and taxes all take on a different and sometimes much easier face with the World Wide Web. Even finding the right real estate for your new business or expansion can be done in large part online, at least in the shopping stage. But the online demands of business have created a serious concern that business men and women of earlier generations did not have to confront: online security.

While businesses have always had to consider surveillance equipment and alarm systems to keep local predators at bay, security threats online can come from the other side of the globe. Fortunately there are things you can do to protect your business and your customers. CIO, a media outlet specializing in information for people in the information technology industry, recently reported on this issue. In the report they looked at four real life scenarios faced by specific small businesses, and then provided types small business owners can follow to be more secured.

How Small Businesses Can Increase Online Security

Ultimately CIO came up with four things you can do to make your business safer online. The first is by using something called "two-factor authentication." You may have used this yourself when logging in to mobile apps on devices like your smart TV or game system. Basically, this is creating a two step process to log in, rather than just using a username and password. The first step of the process is the username and password combo we have all used for years. But the second step involves entering a verification code that is sent to you by text, voice call, or a mobile app. Once you use the verification one time on that particular computer or device, you never have to go through the process on that device again. But if someone tries accessing the account from a different machine, they will not be able to do so without going through the authentication process.

A second thing you can do is set your accounts up to send password reset emails to a different email account than your primary account. If you only use one email account, and a hacker gains access, it will be easier to hack all of your accounts. But if you use multiple email accounts, it would be more work for a hacker and makes you a less desirable target.

To protect your website, consider registering for automatic renewal of your domain name. If you don't automatically renew you may forget, and control of your website may slip into a someone else's hands.

Finally, regularly create offline backups of important data. That way if your online presence is compromised, then at least this most important data cannot be altered or destroyed. You can use a portable hard disk drive for this process.

Small Business Administration and Online Security Training

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also provides information about how to secure information online if you run a small business. The online lessons are available at the SBA website here.

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