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Hackers are the most intimidating kind of criminals. Fast as lightning and invisible, they can come from anywhere in the world and do mortal damage to your small business and your reputation if you don’t act proactively to protect yourself. Take some time to learn what you can do to keep online thieves at bay.

Keep Your Ear to the Ground

Although it’s sometimes impossible to undo hacking damage, you can prevent it by staying up-to-date about the latest cyber-crime trends. Knowledge is power.

Limit Access

The admin level is the “candy store” of your site, the portion that hackers are most eager to enter. That’s because it contains all of your sensitive data, including customer information. Keep strict control of who is given access, and require those who have this privilege to have passwords that are difficult to guess. Restrict the number of times that people can attempt to log in. Finally, protect your customers from unauthorized access by not sending login credentials by email.

Update and Upgrade

You have invested in software to help run your business, but all of your expenditures are in vain if you do not keep these systems updated with the most recent versions and security patches. Hackers can scan thousands of websites until they find one that has a security breach due to outdated software. Don’t let that site be yours.

Install a Web Application Firewall

Speaking of investments, here’s one that could pay for itself many times over. A web application firewall (WAF) is set up between your server and the data connection, inspecting all data that passes through it. Most modern WAFs are cloud-based, and you can subscribe for a minimal monthly fee. Once installed, your WAF will repel hackers as well as spam and traffic from annoying bots.

Disguise Your Admin Pages

Keep your data-sensitive admin pages off the radar of search engines by customizing your site’s robots_txt file. Doing so will make it much less likely that your site will be indexed on Google and other engines.

Encrypt

When user information is being transferred between your site and your database, be sure to encrypt it with protocols such as SSL. This will keep it from being intercepted by hackers.

Obtain Business Coverage

Let’s say the worst happens and your site is hacked, leading to financial loss, business interruption and irate customers who threaten lawsuits. Safeguard yourself in advance from the monetary consequences of a data breach by obtaining insurance for businesses run from home. What you will shell out in premiums could pay for itself many times over if the worst should happen.

Back Up Everything

If you have any experience at all with software and hardware, you have probably learned the importance of saving and backing up your data. Nevertheless, all of us can get lazy about this. As a business owner, you simply cannot afford to procrastinate or minimize the importance of this task. Put in place methods to back up on- and off-site; set your system to back up several times a day. Each time you or anyone else saves or updates a file, that new information should be backed up in multiple locations.

As long as people have walked this earth, unscrupulous ones have been attempting to take what is not theirs and wreak havoc on others. Most likely, this fact of human nature will continue for as long as history goes on. Even so, you can shield yourself from many of these attempts, leaving the criminal to move on to easier pickings elsewhere.