security-breachYou have likely read about large scale data breaches such as those that occurred late last year with Target, Home Depot and Dairy Queen. With those breaches, millions of credit cards were compromised causing tremendous fall out and negative press for the affected businesses not to mention the hassle for those customers whose private data was stolen. The silver lining for big businesses such as these is they were able to maintain day to day functionality when the breaches occurred. If a similar breach were to occur for a small to mid-sized business it can, and often does, bring them to their knees.

Even though you have heard about small business breaches happening, the scope of these large scale breaches might seem unimaginable and unlikely to the smaller players. But it’s important to take notice of the breach itself, the damage it can do and the long term effects it may have on a small business. In some cases, a security issue can temporarily cripple a business that’s not properly prepared.

A data breach is defined as the intentional disclosure of secure information. In basic terms,  malware infiltrates your system via an email attachment or phishing scam and once it’s linked, your valuable data becomes visible to the hacker. Whether your business is mid-sized or small, you need take some steps to make sure your data is protected in the event you encounter a potential breach.

1) Communicate: Make all employees aware that phishing scams are prevalent and a growing risk. That said, they should not open any odd looking emails, documents or attachments without first checking with your IT staff. Communication is the best defense. The more you talk to and train your employees the better they will be at recognizing a potential problem.

2) If your company has a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program, be sure that ALL of their devices are properly protected with Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware programs and keep these programs up to date once installed. And don’t forget that that mobile malware exists too.

3) Speaking of Anti-Malware and Anti-Virus software, it’s important to have the proper software installed for your business needs. Take a look at your options before you install:

a. Do you need a centralized or standalone software? This depends on how many PC’s you have in the office.

b. Does your software scan emails, attachments and downloaded documents? This is a must – be sure your are purchasing software that includes this option.

c. Do you have the resources for this software or will it require an upgrade? You don’t want your systems to suffer from slow response from once your IT Department installs the software.

With any small to mid-sized business, budget is key. Thankfully, there are many payment options when it comes to installing data protection software. Some programs offer one-time fees and others require monthly payments. There are so many options out there you can certainly find something that works for your business. One thing is for sure, purchasing and installing this software is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Robert A. Martin is the President of Great Lakes Computer Bob has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Akron.  He joined the company in 1995 and has held multiple positions including Large Account Sales, Sales Manager, VP of Operations, and now serves as President.  Although he oversees all operations, Bob’s primary focus is in the areas of sales development, strategic direction, government sales and large account management.   Bob lives in Avon, Ohio, is married and the father of two, and is an avid outdoorsman. Bob is the author of Great Lakes Tips on Tech Blog.