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Internet Safety for a Home Business

Jul 5, 2012
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If your home business uses the Internet for transactions, it may be susceptible to malicious software, phishing, and viruses. Such threats may impose additional costs on your business or result in lost profits – or both.

You can take some simple steps to protect your business from Internet threats: get good spyware; have anti-virus and firewall programs installed; and ensure that your computer system and programs are constantly updated with the latest versions.

What are the threats?

A malicious code, such as spyware, is a small program that is installed unintentionally by a computer user. Such software may affect the smooth running of your computer network or eat away at your stored information or installed software.

These attacks, which may also affect personal users, cost both time and money to resolve, which in turn eats away at your company's profits. This is where a quality ant-virus program comes into play. These programs also contain anti-spyware and firewalls, and continuously update themselves against new threats and viruses.

Phishing is another threat to home businesses. A phishing attack uses trusted communication methods, such as email, to extract sensitive company information. These emails try to disguise themselves a something they are not, and may ask for key data that is relevant to your business and finances.

For example, an email that appears to originate from your bank may ask you to reconfirm your username and password for Internet banking. Others may pose as a major credit card company and ask for your credit card numbers. In both cases, these are malicious emails and you shouldn't respond to them or offer any information. If you're not sure whether these emails are real, contact your bank or credit card directly.

Should Businesses Worry About Cyber Attacks?

Aside from malicious programming and phishing, businesses are also vulnerable to hackers. Unlike a virus or spyware – or even phishing, which generally targets thousands of users at a time – hacking is generally a direct, focused attack on your particular system.

If your home business uses a wireless network, make sure it is secured. A secured wireless network requires a username and password to log on. Make sure that this username and password is changed regularly. Avoid using Wi-Fi in public places, such as cafes, to conduct business, and try and use a wired network rather than a wireless network, if possible.

If you value your home business, don't be afraid to spend a little more on some of the higher-end anti-virus software. The best software will block malicious attacks from your Internet browser and scan all incoming data, including email, for known or suspected attacks. When it comes to security, another good small business software investment is a high-end software firewall. Firewalls work to prevent not only harmful incoming data, but they will also block unauthorized programs from sending sensitive data, such as information about your clients, out of your network.

James Green has composed economic research reports on a freelance basis since 2008. Specializing in business and finance, Green possesses a Master of Science in real estate from the University of Aberdeen and a Master of Science in economics from the University of Lund.

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on your taxes, your investments, the law or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

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