November brings the beginning of the holiday season, and business owners everywhere rejoice at the increase of customers and revenue. But with the rise of business comes an increased risk of vulnerability to cybersecurity threats.

While cyber-attacks have predominately affected larger companies in the past, small businesses are now more likely to be the target of hackers because they are often less prepared to defend against a data breach. In fact, according to a study completed by the National Cyber Security Alliance in 2012, 60 percent of small businesses shut down within six months of a data breach. So before the influx of holiday shoppers ensues, follow these tips to secure and defend your business against the perils of cyber threats.

Secure Your Physical Data

Even if you think that your company is not vulnerable because you don’t have electronic databases, odds are you still have at least hard copies of confidential, employee information. Here’s how to protect those files:

Be sure to keep confidential information locked up with limited employee access.

• Only keep physical documents of what you absolutely need; less files in fewer locations  throughout the office makes tracking the information more manageable.

• Be sure to destroy/shred any documents you no longer need.

Secure Your Digital Data

Don’t assume that if you do not use the Internet to conduct daily business, you are not at risk of a cyber-attack. Any personal, identifying information,such as what is kept in a business’ internal database, can be susceptible to hackers.

Invest in security software, including firewall, encryption, and anti-virus programs.

• Make sure all computers are updated regularly to maintain firewalls.

• Ensure that any company electronics are wiped clean of any data before disposal.

Secure Your Employee’s Work

Your employees can be your best defense against cyber threats, but, if not properly trained, they can also be your biggest vulnerability.

Educate employees about the importance of keeping all customer data confidential and only accessing information needed to perform their jobs.

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