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Is your small business cyber-safe?

(NC) With the increasing use of mobile devices and the prominence of social media in our lives, cyber crime poses serious security risks, especially for small businesses. In 2013 alone, cyber crime has cost Canadians $3 billion (in USD) according to a recent Norton report.

“Being cyber safe is a practice that should be part of a company's regular operations,” says Paul T. Ryan, Chief Technology Officer for Yellow Pages Group, a company that provides digital media and marketing solutions to Canada's small businesses. “Small business owners may believe that they are too small to be targeted by cyber criminals, but the fact is that they're a huge target because of their often less robust security systems.”

Ryan suggests implementing a few security measures for small businesses that are looking to protect themselves against cyber fraud:

• Tablets and smartphones are great tools for sales teams but, because of their size, they are a target for both theft and fraud. Always protect your devices with a password, frequently back-up your data, and install security, encryption, and locator apps to protect sensitive business information. Most importantly, don't access private information on free Wi-Fi networks, as they often aren't very secure.

• With the growing use of mobile comes the move to cloud computing. It's great for data storage, as well as for marketing and sales, but this means that you're storing your data online, outside your business and sometimes outside the country. Protect yourself by using a service that allows you to encrypt information before uploading or sharing and by only giving access to a limited number of people in your organization. Don't forget to do your research before choosing a service provider; read their legal terms, know where your data is being stored, and make sure their service fits your security needs.

• Social media sites provide another marketing tool for small businesses to reach their potential customers, but they're also easy targets for hackers looking to get access to private business information. If you're using social media to promote your business, select only a small number of individuals who can post on your company's behalf. Also, it's important to use the site's privacy controls, ignore requests for sensitive business information, and continue to be on the lookout for spam posts.

For small businesses, cyber crime continues to be a very real threat. Ultimately, cyber safety must become the responsibility of all members of an organization, and with the implementation of simple security measures, the high cost of falling victim to this kind of fraud can often be prevented.

More information on this topic is available online at

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