Small Business and the Hacking Threat

Recent news coverage of computer security issues makes it clear that hackers áre a very real danger these days. While many individuals are worried about the hacking threat, it is something that should be even more of a concern for small business owners.


Those people who hold confidential client information on their computers, who run websites and who handle large amounts of money online are obvious targets for hackers to aim for. This means that no small business owner should be unaware of the need for good computer safety practices.

Among the most surprising pieces of advice to come out recently is the suggestion from the UK CESG security service that it is best to avoid overly complex computer passwords. Their new guidelines on the subject point out that in the past the most common advice has been to use complex passwords that hackers would be unlikely to guess.

However, they now state that doing this can cause more problems than it solves. This is because the user can end up being unable to remember their passwords easily, which is especially a problem for those people who maintain a number of passwords for different accounts or sites.

The Dangers of Writing Down a Password

The issue can be that this leads to delays in entering accounts, cost increases and an even higher risk of hackers gaining access. This last point is due to the fact that some users create a workaround in order to remember their password. This often involves writing the password down, which is a security mistake that hackers can find ways of taking advantage of.

Indeed, we have seen recent cases of confidential passwords being flashed on screen during live television shows. A good example of this came when the Wi-Fi password for use at the 2014 Superbowl was broadcast on live television, leading to some sports fans at the game trying to hook up for free.

There was also the case of TV5Monde, the French TV station that showed its passwords stuck on post-it notes on the wall. The same station was later hacked, with the accidental showing of its passwords possibly to blame.

While these cases show the dangers of using complex passwords that need to be written down, it is still the case that unique and difficult to guess passwords are needed. Often, the simple addition of a number or a special symbol can make any password stronger. In no case should default passwords such as “password” be left on any computer or account.

The Need to Be More Concerned

A study of small businesses revealed that 77% of owners believe that they are safe from cyber threats such as hacking and viruses. 66% also said that they are not at all concerned by external threats such as hackers or ex-employees with a grudge. However, the same study revealed that 60% of small businesses would close within a month of a cyber attack. It also shows how internet attacks on this kind of business have doubled in recent years.

One of the simplest ways to protect a business from hackers and other problems of this type is to ensure that all of the computers in the company are clean. This can be done by installing a reputable anti-virus onto each of them and running it regularly. Employees should also be aware of how to use the internet and email services safely.

Use Encryption Software

A business that handles financial data from their customers really has to consider using some sort of encryption software to protect this highly sensitive information. This is a requirement for any business that deals with credit card information, anyway. With standard encryption software in place a business is well protected.

Of course, in some cases it works our more cost-effective to outsource the payment aspect, rather than run the expense of getting the necessary encryption software and expertise. However, businesses with a lot of sensitive information on their computers will want to also consider using encryption for their own files as well.

Clearly, there are plenty of challenges involved in running a small business, which can make it tempting to relegate the likes of the current hacking threat to a low priority. Having said that, it is a very real and serious danger that all small business owners should be aware of.

The good news is that by following some simple and common sense steps it is possible to protect your business without losing too much money or sleep over the matter. Once that is done, you can relax and enjoy having a safe and well protected business.

This video provides some more useful information on the subject

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