Why Small Businesses Should Care About A Safer Internet

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Safer Internet Day is an awareness event that began in Europe about ten years ago, focusing on what small businesses can do to improve safety on the Internet for everyone. After all, we often think Internet attacks are something that happen to other people or businesses. Research has shown that many businesses view cyberattacks as a threat, but have no plan in place to deal with the consequences of a data breach. When you consider that 60% of businesses close within six months after a data breach, you realize that all businesses need to be aware of the risks.

The Internet is a cohesive whole crafted of many tiny pieces. For the Internet to be safe, many different entities need to work together to create that safer space. Businesses that keep their safety and security at the highest level will find they have more customer trust and therefore get better word of mouth spread than companies that don’t protect their customer information.

But if you’re still not convinced, here are three reasons you should care about creating a safer Internet.

malware attacks
Repel malware attacks for a safer internet.

Instill Customer Trust

Customers share a lot of data online. Most customers have reasonable expectations that their data will be private and protected, and that reasonable security measures will be taken to keep it that way. When a data breach occurs, customers lose trust in a company; this, along with the cost of recovering from a breach, may have to do with the high rate of business failures after an attack.

By having a clean site, free of malware or suspicious ads and popups, a business creates an aura of safety which helps to build customer trust.

Protect Customer Information

Along with losing customer trust, if a business loses customer information due to its negligence, it may be subject to heavy penalties, depending on the information lost. Particularly when companies record Personal Identifiable Information (PII), failing to properly manage that information can cause federal penalties to come into play. If a company mishandles HIPPA information, the problems can become even more serious.

By protecting your customers’ information from cyber-attacks just as carefully as you would your own, you protect your business from financial liability.

Protect Business Information

Corporate espionage might not be as fascinating as it is in Hollywood, but it certainly does happen at times. Protecting your company’s trade secrets can be the difference between a viable market share and a sudden undercutting of your company’s product or services.

When companies protect their own business information, they are protecting their position in the market and making sure that competitors don’t gain an illegal advantage.

So you probably agree by now that keeping the Internet safe is something that all businesses need to work together to do. How can your small business take the initiative to protect information without spending money you don’t have?

Three Simple Things You Can Do To Keep Your Information Safe

  • Keep your antivirus and malware software up to date. Really, there’s nothing more simple, especially if you only have a few computers in your location. Make sure that software regularly updates and scans for threats, and react appropriately to them if and when they are found. If you find something you can’t handle on your own, don’t ignore it; call an IT professional for help. Be wary of any sudden slowdowns, suspicious error messages, or changes in your computer’s behavior.
  • Manage access carefully. If someone leaves your team today, who revokes their access in your systems? How are their accounts deleted? Is that something that can be maintained in house, or do you need a remote IT person to manage that system for you? Knowing this ahead of time prevents unauthorized access by a disgruntled former employee.
  • Back up all your data. One of the common threats currently is malware which locks an entire network under a password; to regain access to the system, users have to pay a hefty fee to the hacker who locked the system. This threat is neutered if your data can be accessed remotely in a secure location which is protected from your primary system.

If your business revolves around you and your laptop, you must manage your own malware and antivirus programs. In addition, making sure any business-relevant information is backed up should be enough to keep your information safe. If, however, you run a business that takes credit card payments directly, takes in and stores identifying information as defined by the federal government, or puts out ads that could potentially become vehicles for malware, your responsibilities may be more in-depth.

What does your small business do to keep its Internet presence safe?

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.