The Biggest IT Security Threat: You

What’s the biggest IT security threat to your business? Hackers? Hacktivists? Untrustworthy employees? Actually, it’s none of the above.

It’s you.

Failing to optimize your IT security is just asking for trouble. If things take a turn for the worse, you only have yourself to blame. 38% of small business owners spend no money on their IT security, and 45% don’t consider themselves targets for hackers.

Don’t live in denial — the online security threat is real, and it’s not going away.

Follow these three steps and prevent cybercriminals from accessing your company’s valuable data.

1. Build a (Fire)wall

Think of a firewall as a border between you and the bad guys. Build your wall high enough, and cybercriminals won’t be able to climb over it and steal your personal data.

“When anyone or anything can access your computer at any time, your computer is more susceptible to being attacked,” says the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). “You can restrict outside access to your computer and the information on it with a firewall.”

Firewalls can’t keep everything out, though — they protect against malicious traffic and cyberthreats but not malware. Using a firewall should be just one part of your online security strategy, alongside a disaster recovery plan and managed security services.

2. Invest in End-User Training

Your staff could compromise your company’s personal data and not even know about it. That’s why you should invest in proper end-user training for employees who interact with your IT. Once your staff are proficient in the safe use of your hardware and software, they are less likely to jeopardize important data and unwittingly expose it to third parties.

Although training staff will require a small investment, it will provide you with a long-term return on your investment while enhancing your IT security.

“One of the most important steps for small and medium-sized enterprises is to set out a universal company security policy, written in plain English and avoiding the use of jargon,” says the Daily Telegraph. “This policy should form a key part of staff induction – for permanent employees as well as contractors or third-party users of their systems.”

3. Use Antivirus Software

Believe it or not, some small business owners still don’t use antivirus software. These defense applications are the foundation of your online security regimen and will help you prevent hackers and cybercriminals from accessing your IT systems.

“Antivirus software is the ‘policeman’ at the gate of a computer system,” according to the California State University Maritime Academy. “It protects the computer from incoming threats and seeks out, destroys and warns of possible threats to the system. New viruses are coming out all the time. It is the job of the antivirus software to keep up with the latest threats.”

It’s also important to consider that not all antivirus software is the same. Look for programs that detect and analyze the latest malware in real time and prevent cyberattacks and malicious software from harming your IT systems. Your antivirus program should also be easy to use, understand, and manage.