It is commonly known that identity theft is the fastest growing crime worldwide. According to the U.S State Department, identity theft has now surpassed drug trafficking as the number one crime in the United States. The sad truth is that the situation is getting worse and the bad guys are showing no signs of letting up. In fact, 2009 was a record year for the number of identity thefts and cyber crimes.
The number of people using privacy protection services such as LifeLock® is consequently at a record high. Businesses are just as vulnerable as individuals, often times more so. It is no secret that Chinese hackers had targeted American businesses (and likely still are) and North Korean hackers successfully attacked the Treasury Department in 2009. The stakes are very high and there are real threats out there to your business. Is your business’ private information protected? Here are some common sense things you can do to protect that private information:
• Choose strong passwords not only for online account but for internal systems
• Change your passwords regularly
• Patch your computers regularly and also patch your software
• Review your account statements regularly
• Do not open email or attachments from unknown sources
In addition to these common sense practices, ask yourself “Is my business taking unnecessary risks”? Are your network users allowed to use Instant Messenger Applications and surf the Internet? Are the users a local administrator on their PC’s (allowing viruses or trojans to install)? As a business technology organization, we see companies spending a large amount of money repairing virus-infected systems. Certainly that is extremely important to do, but the money would be better invested in preventing the problem in the first place. Here are some additional guidelines for your business:
• Do not allow users to have local administrator rights on their PC
• Implement web content filtering and protocol level filtering at the end point.
• Make sure machine level firewalls are active
• Implement strong password policies
• Develop strong policies for acceptable Internet Use
• Develop strong plans to react to and prevent cyber crime
• Develop an employee awareness and training program
• Encrypt sensitive data
• Develop polices for restricting storage of critical data (I.E. Cannot be stored on flash drives, etc)
The risks of cyber crime to a business are greater now than ever before. It is likely than more dramatic steps will be required in the future to protect private information such as biometric transactions, but until a high profile breach causes fundamental change in common practices, it is wise to take these basic steps to protect your information. Colden Company Inc. helps customers with these types of precautions on a regular basis. If you would be interested in hearing more about how to protect your business, please feel free to call us at (518) 885-2857.