By Gary Mullen, Kaspersky Small Office Security

Cybercriminals target those least equipped to defend themselves. Guest blogger Gary Mullen offers tips to keep your business safe.

Like all predators, cybercriminals gravitate towards the weakest targets. With an arsenal of easily-distributed malware at their fingertips, hackers can easily target small offices with malware that can wipe out your machines, steal the financial data of your customers, or worse, hijack your bank transactions. In fact, the number of cyber-attacks that specifically target small offices has grown steadily each year. Larger businesses have the money and resources to secure their systems proactively, and to repair the damage to their systems and reputations in the event of a malware infection. But for a fledgling business, an incident like this could push it into financial ruin.

The right security software can effectively protect you from most of these threats, but a little common sense goes a long way towards creating secure business practices. Here are five tips to consider when thinking about the security of your business and data.

1)  Educate Your Workforce

Make sure your employees know a simple fact: no business is ‘too small’ to be targeted by cybercrime. Set clear expectations with your employees that you expect them to conduct their online work with the utmost vigilance and sensitivity to anything that appears suspicious or inappropriate for the workplace.

2) Loose Clicks Sink Ships

It’s a sad truth – the majority of cyber-incidents can be traced back to a single mistake made by an unsuspecting person. Social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can be fantastic ways to connect with customers, but they are a breeding ground for malware as well. Be sure your employees know not to install unknown applications or open suspicious URLs while building your company’s online presence.

3) Close Vulnerabilities

No matter what kind of security software or policies you have in place, your business will be vulnerable if you’re running software that lacks the latest  updates, or using Web browsers that are years out-of-date. Third-party applications, Adobe for example, are targeted much more frequently than the computer’s operating system, so make sure your workforce is equipped with current software, and ensure employees understand the importance of accepting software updates when prompted.

4) Back Up, Back Up, Back Up

…and then back up some more. The time you spend setting up a data backup system is a pittance compared to the monumental hassle of retrieving data from a broken hard drive on an employee laptop. Whenever possible, set your backups to run automatically, instead of relying on employees to manually back up their work.

5) Make Sure the Cure Isn’t Worse than the Problem

Too often, very small businesses will purchase software designed for much larger enterprises, and then struggle to install and manage it. This can eat up your time with administration headaches and slow your employees down, making the total cost of securing your business much higher than you bargained for.

The right security software gives you the advanced tools you need – such as data backup and file encryption – but makes these technologies accessible to users that don’t have IT degrees. Also, make sure it’s easy to apply the same security settings to each machine. You don’t want a worker turning off protection and becoming a weak link in the chain.

Small office entrepreneurs have enough challenges, and they need security software that lets them focus on growing their business.  With some careful consideration and common sense, you can make sure your business stays protected from cyber-crooks looking for a quick payday.

Gary Mullen, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Kaspersky Small Office Security. As Senior Director, Corporate Marketing, Kaspersky Lab Americas Gary Mullen leads B2B marketing across the Americas and is responsible for enabling strategic partners to grow their businesses.