Most home businesses are run on personal devices, such as a computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone. They don’t have an IT department or private network. That means it’s up to you to protect your home business from online threats. Luckily, it isn’t difficult or expensive to do and the peace of mind is priceless.
Nineteen percent of Canadian small businesses reported an impactful cyber security incident in 2017, according to Statistics Canada, and there are more incidents every day.
“More than half (54%) of impacted businesses reported that cyber security incidents prevented employees from carrying out day-to-day work, while 53% reported that incidents prevented the use of resources or services (for example, desktop computers or email),” states the Statistics Canada report, Impact of Cybercrime on Canadian Businesses. “Close to one-third (30%) of businesses faced additional repair or recovery costs, 10% lost revenue and 4% reported that they had to reimburse external parties or make a ransom payment in 2017.”
How to Protect Your Home Business from Online Threats
Firewalls protect you from Internet threats at the network level. All of your computers, laptops and mobile devices should be tucked safely behind a firewall. If you have a comprehensive anti-virus package, you’re probably already behind a firewall.
One of the perks of a home business is you’re mobile. You can work from your favourite coffee shop with free WiFi or fly around the world if you want to. Public WiFi can expose you to threats, however. A good anti-virus program will protect you against many of these threats. Using a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) will allow you to browse, bank and shop in complete privacy, even on public Wi-Fi. For example, AVG Secure VPN protects your online activity under bank-grade, 256-bit AES encryption.
Use long, random passwords containing both lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and characters. Don’t reuse passwords or store them on your devices.
Clicking the wrong email link or opening the wrong attachment can bring your home business down around your ears. Be very cautious with any email link or attachment and never enable macros in Microsoft Office emails. Also ignore notices that tell you a Google doc or eFax has been sent to you. If you know the sender, watch for signs that it may not actually be from them. Anti-virus packages often include email protection against attached viruses.
Anything you download can contain threats. It’s important to only download from trusted sources. Having a good anti-virus program will help to protect you from infection by scanning files before downloading them onto your device.
Keep your system, browser and all software updated. Many updates include security patches. Automatic updates ensure you have the latest security updates and patches.
Did you know you can encrypt your files and lock your private apps for protection, even if your device is stolen? It’s another perk of the better anti-virus packages.
Backups are critical! Even if you have every faith in your protection measures, this should be a part of your “backup plan” for everything. First, run a complete virus scan. Then, connect to your external hard drive or USB storage device and run the backup. Once the backup is complete disconnect the storage device. This is critical because if ransomware is installed on your computer, it will also encrypt connected storage devices. You may prefer to back up your data to the cloud, but make sure the cloud storage provider uses bulletproof encryption and authentication.
Viruses, Ransomware and Malware
Today’s anti-virus programs do so much more than scan for threats. They stop infections in their tracks. The best protection against infection is prevention, but no matter how careful you are with downloads, email and surfing, you could still be infected. A good anti-virus package will protect you against all threats with a constantly-updated database of viruses, and the best ones can even recognize new threats.
One of the most popular, easiest, all-in-one solutions for people who use their personal devices to run their home business is AVG software. They boast more than 200 million active users who trust their products and services for their online protection, performance, and privacy.
AVG Ultimate All-in-One Protection covers all your bases, including:
- Protection for all Windows, Mac or Android devices.
- Protection from viruses, malware and ransomware
- Email protection
- File encryption
- WiFi threats
- Secure online payments
- Protection against malicious websites
- Software update management
What About My Home Business Website?
Your website can be targeted through your server or content management software like WordPress. There are various ways to make it more difficult for hackers to access your website, such as:
- Secure website hosting with built-in security features, such as GreenGeeks.
- Website back-ups. You can use a plugin like WordPress Database Backup and/or choose a host that provides complete back-ups automatically.
- Use plugins that foil bot attacks intended to crack your password, such as Limit Login Attempts.
- Use long, random passwords.
- Use secure usernames that aren’t the default (such as “admin”) and aren’t easy to guess (like your name).
- Only use themes and plugins from trusted sources.
Protecting your home business from hackers and malicious software should be your top priority. You can lose it all in an instant if you ignore cyber security.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
eCommerce and Online Sales Fraud Prevention in Canada
Mission Critical: Protect Your Business SmartPhone
10 Home-Based Business Tips to Keep Parents Sane
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