Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar operation or an online-only business, protecting yourself from crime can be challenging. In a world of increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks, it’s vital to be up-to-date on the latest scams and digital theft techniques. Though it’s impossible to be perfectly prepared, there’s a lot you can do to make a thief or hacker’s job far more difficult. Let’s explore some basic approaches to protecting yourself and your business from cybercrime.
Use the Right Anti-Virus Programs
Viruses are self-replicating lines of code or rogue programs intended to cause harm to your computer. Some of these viruses exist to steal sensitive information. For more information, we spoke to Brendan Larson. He’s a computer expert with years of experience repairing PCs.
“The first thing you should do is get anti-virus software,” says Brendan. “This doesn’t necessarily mean you should get the big-name products like McAfee or Norton. Those programs tend to slow down your machine and may be intentionally designed to fail.”
Brendan’s observations about the big-name anti-virus programs have been echoed by tech journalists and reviewers who note the programs’ resource-heavy design and difficulty during the uninstallation process.
Not to worry, as Brendan has some recommendations:
“The Malwarebytes family of programs is very reliable. Their products come in free and paid versions, and for business purposes I would recommend getting the paid versions. Set these to run once a week and you’ll be safe.”
Make Sure You’re Browsing Safely
One of the most effective methods of cybercrime protection is often the most overlooked: know how to browse safely. Of course, this isn’t a 100% effective method—but by simply avoiding certain types of websites, you limit your exposure to material that could harm your computer or steal sensitive information.
Key to this principle is work computers for business purposes only. Here’s Brendan again:
“Don’t visit sketchy websites on a computer with sensitive information. I know it’s tempting to browse aimlessly while at work, but it’s an awful idea and you’ll catch malware and other types of viruses without even downloading anything.”
He adds: “Don’t put any personal information on sketchy websites. This includes credit card numbers, addresses, and full names.”
Is Your Business’s Website Protected?
Going beyond personal browsing habits, it’s important to ensure your website can’t be accessed remotely by an unauthorized user. Hackers will exploit any flaw in website security they can find. Have an IT expert check your website for security flaws, backdoors, or anything else that could be exploited.
This is especially vital if you’re asking customers to trust you with sensitive information, such as credit card numbers. If you’re running an online store, ensure you have the proper security certificates so potential customers know their information is safe.
Odds and Ends
There’s a lot to explore in the world of online security, but we’ll leave you with a few more common pitfalls that can expose you to cybercrime. “Don’t download toolbars for your browser,” says Brendan, “No matter how much Farmville money it gives you, they’re always viruses.”
On the subject of email, Brendan has this to say:
“You’re not the cousin of a prince in Africa. Don’t reply to odd looking emails. If it seems too good to be true, then it is as far as emails go.”
Finally, Brendan elaborated on a common internet-scam that targets business owners:
“Another pitfall that frequently traps businesses are check scams. If anyone ever sends you a check with a lot of money and tells you to deposit it, then pull cash out and then send part of it to someone through Moneygram or similar types of money transferring operations, don’t do it. It’s fake, the money doesn’t actually exist, so the banks the banks will take all of the money out of your account.”
So there you have it—a few simple tips for keeping yourself protected from cybercrime. Remember, the most important thing is to be vigilant. Stay up to date on the latest tricks and scams and you’ll be in-the-know when trouble comes knocking at the door.