There are lots of big names in the news that wish they weren’t. They’re newsworthy because their databases have been hacked, putting employees and customers at risk. Not only have many major retailers been hit, but also institutions we thought were the most secure, including the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and other government agencies, have recently suffered major data systems breeches.
So what about your manufacturing business? You’re probably thinking that, because you have little or no information that identity thieves are interested in, you’re an unlikely target for cyber crime. Sadly this may not be the case. In addition to the very real threat of identity theft, there is an alarming rise in the incidence of companies suffering cyber attacks aimed at disrupting their business activities, either for revenge (Sony Pictures) or by an alleged competitor hoping to pirate intellectual property (Huston Astros Major League Baseball franchise).
So even if you think you’re too small or little known to be attacked, it’s smart to keep your defenses up. Here are 5 ways to do so:
Cyber Insurance. Discuss your current coverage (if any) with your business insurance provider. If you have other forms of liability or business interruption insurance, you may already be covered. If not find out what kind of policies your provider offers.
Call In The Experts. Unless you have an in-house IT department that is up to date on cyber security, bring in an expert to audit your systems and advise you about installing the best software defenses. This consultant should be independent, and not in league with any one software provider so he or she will give you objective advice. This won’t be a one-shot deal, of course, because the hackers are constantly coming up with new ways to do their dirty deeds, so budget for regular visits.
Educate Employees. Establish rules for using laptops, mobile devices and computers, and make sure all your people know and follow them. Cloud storage of data and the ability to access information on any device are great timesavers but also create excellent opportunities for a cyber attack. Employees must understand and follow protocols for downloading APPs, identifying suspicious emails and keeping business and personal data separated.
Protect Passwords. The best passwords are longer and more complex than the easy-to-remember ones we relied on in the past. Most experts suggest using a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, and to change the passwords every 6 months. To keep track of all your passwords you can use a password vault APP that safely encrypts and stores them.
Establish An Emergency Plan. If you suspect your systems have been hacked, you need to respond quickly. That’s why you should have a written plan that sets protocols for various situations. For example, if a mobile device or computer is lost or stolen, the plan indicates who is in charge of the situation, and what steps to take to minimize the damage.
Taking actions like these along with a healthy dose of common sense can help keep your business safe from the cyber tigers.