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Five Common Security Lapses Made by Small Businesses

Small-business owners are far more likely to commit a security error. Avoid the most common mistakes with these tips.

For a small-business owner, it’s tempting to do things the scrappy way — your own IT, your own Web design, even your own security.

Alas, this final area is where many small businesses drop the ball, forgoing the basics of cyber-security and thus placing their livelihoods in danger. Below is a review of the most common security mistakes that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) commit on a regular basis. Don’t follow suit!

The Network Effect

Most small businesses cannot afford industry-standard networks from the likes of Sun or Cisco, so many business owners build their networks “off the shelf.” Consumer routers are a common fixture, but these come with a built-in risk: It only takes a hacker minutes to look up a list of default passwords, tunnel into your router and take over every computer and file your business owns. So change your router passwords, activate the strongest wireless protection available and check for unauthorized computers on your network.

When Storm Clouds Gather

Cloud computing is all the rage these days, with major corporations and SMBs leaping with both feet into the world of remotely hosted solutions. Be aware, however, that not all cloud computing is created equal. Stick with major vendors such as Carbonite, Google Docs and Box. The better encryption and stronger security measures are worth those few extra pennies a month.

Orphaned Laptops or Smartphones

One of the most common security risks in small business is the forgotten laptop or smartphone. Absent password protection and good onboard security, these misplaced devices are little more than standing-open doors to your network. The answer: Secure every machine that has access to sensitive information, and don’t be afraid to enforce severe measures about which devices are allowed on the network in the first place.

Third-Party Fouls

Of course, not all errors may be yours; another big source of security breaches is third-party partners. Many SMBs rely on a loosely affiliated network of vendors, such as hosting services, merchant accounts, fulfillment centers and billing companies. Any one of these could become the index case for a viral pandemic that knocks out your servers. Stick with companies you know and trust, and be sure to inquire pointedly about how they plan to protect your data.

The Click of Death

Finally we arrive at a familiar security lapse, the same one that strikes individuals around the world: the dumb click. For instance, clicking on attachments in spam e-mails or visiting infected websites from company machines. Vigilant training and repetition are the keys to limiting your risk. You may also consider installing some firewall software to keep your employees out of the Web's worst neighborhoods.

The good news is that many security lapses are easily preventable. Take these tips, and you can work without fear! Consult an Staples tech expert expert to help secure your SMB.

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