Is your business a target for identity thieves?

By Dave Thomas

Businesses across the nation wake up each and every day to new challenges, one of which has been coming at them in droves in recent years.

While hackers have targeted companies since the early days of the Internet, it has become a much bigger and more noticeable issue in recent years, leading more American companies to fight back.

With that said, is the effort to thwart hackers winning or losing?

The answer to that question of course depends on the answers put forward by the men and women running U.S. businesses.

Some will note success, others will point out that there is still much more work to be done.

Preparing to Defend Your Brand

To prevent or greatly minimize the chances of a cyber-attack, are you doing the following?

1. Protection

To start matters off, do you have the right security system software in place? While many larger-sized companies automatically have such protections in place, it is not uncommon for a sizable number of smaller companies to not be up to speed on protection. When this happens, they are left exposed to cyber-criminals who can then infiltrate the company’s website. Once an identity theft thief is inside, they can do all kinds of things, none of which are good for a company’s financial standing and for that matter its public relations position with customers. Whether you opt for LifeLock or another such identity theft protection product, be sure that you have a program in place to thwart hackers at each and every turn;

2. Employees

Often looked at as your first defense against hackers, your workers need to be cognizant of the fact that identity theft thieves are regularly testing business websites to see which ones are strong and those that prove vulnerable. Your employees need to avoid sharing pertinent company and customer data in an unsupervised manner, along with not discussing it on social networking sites. Lastly, if an employee or employees suspect that someone within the organization is potentially stealing company or customer data for their own financial purposes, it is imperative that they are reported immediately. As events have shown over time, in-house identity theft is more common than many business owners may think. Make sure you are doing the right things to motivate your employees to do what is best for the business when all is said and done;

3. Passwords

Something that can easily get lost in the shuffle of running a business is having sound usernames and passwords for all your employees to log in and out of their computers. If you have an employee using something along the lines of John Smith as a username, with Password123 as the password to log on, how difficult do you think that is to break? User names and passwords should be carefully thought out before each new employee begins working for you. Also make it clear that usernames and passwords should not be shared around the office;

4. Locations

It is not all that uncommon for companies to have remote workers and employees traveling for business. With that being the case, it is important you have the right security measures in place. Along with secure log-in usernames and passwords, be sure that any of your employees working from home or doing work for you on the road (networking conferences, meeting with clients etc.) work from secure server sites. For example, if one of your employees is at a free Wi-Fi site (café, store, Laundromat etc.), can they be 100 percent sure hackers can’t access the info on their laptops? Employees working from home and/or traveling for business need to be careful that any company or customer information that should not be seen outside of a secure server in the office is just that, not viewed anywhere but in the office;

5. Reviews

Lastly, how often are you reviewing the security procedures you have in place for your company’s online activities? Hackers are always trying to outwit authorities and businesses for that matter, so you need to stay a step or two ahead of them. Do periodic reviews, meaning test your site to see how vulnerable it is to attacks. You can designate one or more employees to play the role of “hackers” and see if they can penetrate your system. While you may think this is wasted time, always remember that it just takes one successful attack to render you and your business useless to many customers.


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