Many small businesses ignore their computer security needs because they think that their small size lets them fly under the radar. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking dangerously mis-estimates the enemy. Identity thieves and hackers usually like to target the low-hanging fruit first. They know that small businesses don’t protect themselves well.
One reason why small businesses choose to go easy with their security needs is that they are budget-constrained. It’s a tough economy and they don’t want to put money out for an expert IT security staff. Whether a business is able to afford IT security personnel or not, they certainly could take a few low-cost measures. These could go a long way towards making sure that it isn’t open season for small businesses.
Make sure that the internal hard drives on your business computers are all encrypted
Security experts estimate that business travelers lose about 2000 laptops at airports and other public places each day. When these computers are stolen, identity thieves often go to work on them harvesting whatever profitable information there is there to be found.
You might think that simply using a system password should protect your data adequately. These passwords don’t help, though, if the thief simply takes the hard drive out of the stolen laptop and plugs it into another computer.
While you could use folder locking software for some degree of protection, nothing works as well as full disk encryption. Microsoft’s BitLocker is about the best disk encryption software available today. It comes included with Windows 8 Ultimate and Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise.
Upgrading the computers in your business to one of these operating systems could be very expensive. Instead, you just need to download free software like DiskCryptor.
Make sure that your portable storage is secure
To protect the data that you have on portable drives, Microsoft has an application called BitLocker To Go.
BitLocker To Go, though, only works on operating systems that are equipped with the software. OS X and older versions of Windows aren’t able to read these drives. If you want a universally compatible alternative, you should go with storage devices that have onboard hardware encryption. These products come with onboard fingerprint scanners and other protection measures to help protect your data from identity thieves.
It’s important to go with a brand that is well-reviewed. There are plenty of no-name portable storage brands with poor quality hardware encryption.
Paying attention to those passwords
The data encryption techniques above entirely rely on the user’s ability to choose a good password. What if the user makes the mistake of thinking up a simple password and then using it across all his computers and online accounts?
People tend to do this because different complex passwords for different accounts are impossible for anyone to remember. Installing a password manager like RoboForm or Sticky Password on each business computer takes care of this. Not only are these capable of creating different complex passwords for each account that a user has, they are capable of remembering them, as well. The user just needs to remember the one strong password to open the password manager.