Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

How Small Businesses Can Keep Data Secure

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

How Small Businesses Can Keep Data Secure

Article excerpt

A lack of resources and a false sense of security can make small businesses enticing targets for hackers. Lisa Traina, CPA/CITP.CGM A, president and owner of information technology security firm Traina & Associates in Louisiana, suggests ways for organizations with limited IT budgets to keep their data secure:

* Don't think it can't happen to you. Breaches at large companies such as Home Depot, Sony, and Target make the headlines, but small companies are at risk, too. While it's true that larger companies have greater quantities of valuable information for hackers to steal, smaller companies are at risk because fraudsters presume--often correctly--that their controls are not as strong.

* Install proper network and work station controls. An IT specialist needs to make sure the company has a properly configured firewall. Anti-virus software and current patches need to be applied to all hardware and software. Companies also should make sure access to data and systems is limited to individuals for whom access has been approved.

* Establish a culture of security. Training is a key element in creating an environment where the importance of data security is appreciated and treated with the appropriate serious attitude. Employees need to understand the dangers of visiting unsafe websites while at work. They need to know what phishing emails look like, and that one click on a nefarious link can result in a major breach. Many companies block access to certain sites in the name of security

* Use strong passwords. Having one employee use a weak password such as "Password 1" can put the whole organization at risk. Systems should encourage or even require passwords that use a combination of numbers and letters and are more difficult for hackers to crack. Employees should not use the same password for all sites and systems, and should be sure to use separate passwords for business and personal systems. …

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