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Did you know that nearly 80% of small businesses close their doors within 2 years after a data loss or security breach?   According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (itrc), the number of breaches has increased 30% in 2013 from 2012.  So, what can a small business owner do to prevent this from happening to their business?  Thankfully, protecting your business from a threat is possible and doing so is far less expensive than the physical, emotional and financial cost of fixing one.

1. Identify your most important data, isolate it onto as few computers as possible and work with IT to encrypt it – The key is to know what data is most important to you and keep it isolated.  Encryption software can provide further protection by making impossible to be viewed even if your computer is stolen.  Check out Trucrypt for an excellent FREE encryption program.

2. Create a formal security policy – It is important that your employees know that security is part of your company culture.  A policy is a step in that direction.  Equally important is enforcement of your polices.  Policies without “teeth” fail.  Work with your IT provider on how to measure and report policy breaches.  Contact us for a set of FREE IT policy templates.

3.  Use a good firewall and secure your wireless network – Work with your IT provider to select a good firewall and be sure to encrypt all wireless devices.  It is surprising how many organizations still run unsecured wireless networks.  

4.  Keep Antivirus and Anti-malware current – This one seems obvious, but it is still surprising how many machines have outdated or inactivated antivirus/antimalware software running.   There are many options on the market today that your IT provider can make sense of for you.   For personal use, check out AVG‘s free personal use software.

5.  Create strong passwords and change them often – Arguably the most important and easiest to implement, passwords should be difficult to guess and consist of a combination of numbers and letters and be at least 8 characters long.   Never re-use a password and change them at least every 90 days.  If you need help picking a password, check out this password generator.

To help with these tips and many more strategies to protect your business, contact your IT provider or NorthStar today!


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