Protecting the privacy and security of your small business is crucial, but it's not enough to merely shred documents and change passwords. Data breaches, identity theft and bank fraud are becoming more common as small businesses use the Internet.
Geoffrey Arone, the co-founder of SafetyWeb.com, a consumer privacy watchdog group and consumer privacy protection agency, says small-business owners face real security threats every day.
The BBB, along with Arone, recommends these tips to avoid the most common security threats:
* Data breach resulting from poor networking choices: Small Business owners can block most threats by using a quality router and making sure to change the router password from the default.
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* Data breach resulting from improper shredding practices: A commercial shredder is a wise investment if private information is printed and shredded on a daily basis.
* Identity theft resulting from public databases: Business owners often publish information about themselves in public databases. Businesses are registered with the county clerk, telephone numbers are in the phone book, and Facebook profiles offer addresses and dates of birth. Identity thieves can use this information to construct a complete identity.
* Identity theft resulting from using a personal name instead of filing a DBA: Sole proprietors who use their personal names instead of filing a DBA are at greater risk for identity theft due to their names being published publicly.
* Tax record theft: Businesses should drop off tax returns at the post office and collect refunds promptly from the mailbox.
* Bank fraud due to gap in protection or monitoring: Business owners should check their accounts monthly for any charges they did not make, as well as monitor what other accounts could have been opened in their name. Monitoring services like myID.com can alert business owners when new credit accounts are opened fraudulently.
* Failing to choose a secure password: Security experts are recommending the use of a pass phrase rather than a password because it is more secure.
* Not securing new computers or hard drives: Businesses should have their IT systems professionally installed and secured so they do not provide an entry point for hackers.
* Social engineering: Social engineers are individuals who call and claim they are from another organization. They may even claim to be with a firm which a business owner does business with. If someone you do not know calls on the phone, be sure it is the person you think it is before revealing passwords or confidential information.
Roberta Namee and Mary Ann Redeker-Perez work for the Better Business Bureau in Wichita. If you have questions or concerns about a company, contact the bureau at 800-856-2417 or www.kansasplains.bbb.org.