Any modern small business owner is likely to have, and depend on, a personal computer. From simple laptops to complex business machines, computers are an essential part of modern business. In order for them to work their best, they need to be connected to the Internet and interacting with other Internet users around the world. The problem is that opening that door to the world of business also opens the door to the world of cyber-crime. Any small business owner with a computer connected to the web needs to know, understand, and prepare for the risks involved in such a connection.
1. Have Antivirus Software
The most important piece of protective software on your computer is the antivirus suite. The vast majority of cyber-crimes and cyber-attacks begin with little pieces of malware that get into your computer through e-mails, websites or even physical media (usually USB flash drives). These pieces of software can not only ruin your computer, but they often serve as information gathering services for criminals; secretly gathering and sending out data throughout the day.
2. Buy and Use Multiple Firewalls
The firewall on your car protects you from the heat and potential fire hazard inherent in your engine. Likewise, a firewall on your computer will protect you from unwanted invasions from unwelcome, outside users. Your modem, router and computer will all have firewalls – and it is important to install them. According to Philadelphia criminal attorney, Stephen E. Kellis, you need to always set these peripherals to something other than the default settings, as many cyber-criminals know those settings and use them to gain access.
3. Update Your Software Automatically Everyday
The vast majority of malicious pieces of software are very dependent on flaws, bugs or loopholes in your computer’s coding in order to work. Generally these problems exist in the operating system, but shortcomings on your browser, e-mail reader and other key components can also serve as entry points. Set all of these pieces of software to update nightly, after work, and permit your computer to run those updates before automatically shutting down.
4. Turn Off Your Computer Each Night
The vast majority of unauthorized attacks are conducted using “brute force,” i.e. having a computer try password after password until finally one works. The best way to stop this is to ensure that your computer is turned off when not needed. The best way to do this is to schedule all updates and scans to occur a few hours after you finish work, and then schedule the computer to shut itself off a few hours after that.
5. Use “Sentence Fragment” Passwords
In the past, people made passwords hard to guess by using long strings of unusual numbers, letters and characters. However, modern brute-force programs can easily break through such passwords. As such, you should focus on using short phrases as passwords which are easy to remember but too long to be guessed at random. Phrases like “this1isthebest4me” are best, because you will remember them intuitively, yet they will take many millions of attempts to be hacked.
In the event that your small business computer is compromised, it is important to talk to an attorney and find out what your options are going forward. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorney will not only let you know what charges you may have to file, but what defenses you may have to take to protect yourself against allegations of crimes committed by someone thought to be you.
Protecting your small business PC from cyber-crime by using the five tips listed above can help you avoid the hassle and costs associated with cyber theft. Although small business owners may experience the injustice of cyber-crime, there may be justice because most cyber thieves leave a trail of evidence for authorities to follow. With the continual advancement of technology, eventually all criminals will be brought to justice.
About the Author: Krista Langford is a small business computer user and contributing author for the PA law office of Steven E. Kellis. Mr. Kellis specializes in white collar crimes which include computer theft, computer hacking, computer fraud and Internet theft.