In the world of small business, those running companies must deal with daily decisions, decisions that sometimes can mean the difference between a winning business and one that may ultimately have to post a closed sign on its doors sooner rather than later.

Small businesses come and go for a variety of reasons, among which include:

  • Reduction in need for one’s product or service;
  • Early retirement and no one to sell the business to;
  • Challenging economic times;
  • Downsizing

No matter the reason that one may close-out a small business, such owners never want it to be because someone else essentially put them out of business.

While it is not the norm, one of the reasons that can lead to a small business going under is because of outside influences, namely hackers. When someone with criminal intent hacks into a company’s computer system, the damage that can be caused can be two-fold.

First, the trail of financial damages can be long and hard to overcome. Second, the lost trust from customers who have had their personal financial information compromised can prove hard to rebound from.

Ask yourself the following…. is your small business is doing all it can to keep hackers from attacking?

If the answer is no, here are some tips to mull over:

  • Protection – If in-house computer security software (see more below) is something you have frowned over because you felt you did not have the money or time to install it, think again. Always note that identity theft criminals are continuously looking for ways to beat the system (technology), so you always need to stay one step ahead of them. Just as consumers (and some business owners for that matter) use products like LifeLock and other such identity theft protection services on the market, your small business must make sure any pertinent company and customer data is protected from would-be thieves;
  • Employees – If your small business employs others, it is important to remember that those workers are not only the face of the company, but in the trenches in the war against identity theft. Given the various tasks your employees are asked to complete (including handling customer financial information), guarding against hackers should always be right up there at the top. Have your team look for any suspicious signs such as questionable emails asking them to download attachments, queries on social media probing for more than just the normal company contact information, and watching one another. You might be surprised to learn just how many hacking jobs turn out to be from the inside and not outside sources;
  • Hosting – Another loose end that hackers will go after is if your web hosting provider has lackadaisical security measures in place. When you looked for a hosting provider in the first place, did you scrutinize their security system? If the answer is no, this is something you need to follow up on immediately. Be sure they are continuously running updates to look for any cracks or holes in their technology. Your firewall should be second to none, allowing for interception of any suspicious incoming requests, especially from those you do not know. That said you also must be on hunt for anything that looks suspicious coming from those you do know. Hackers have become masters at hiding their malware so that it is not obvious. They send you a job application or other request of the company, someone downloads it, the next thing you know your system is infected. While your web host should be your first line of defense, never assume they have you entirely covered;
  • Update – Finally, it is important that you are regularly updating your online security measures, especially given the fact that hackers are continually looking to break through. Small businesses, as one insurance report notes, are even more susceptible to such attacks because they tend to have less online security procedures in place. With all that small biz owners have to do on a daily basis, it can be commonplace for them to lag behind on updating security measures that are a major defense against online identity theft attacks.

When it comes right down to it, can your small business withstand even one serious attack?

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business and technology topics on the web.