The antics of groups like Anonymous and LulzSec over the past few months have made data breaches seem inevitable. If information security vendors like HBGary and RSA Security aren't safe, what hope does an average SMB have? It is true that there is no silver bullet, and no impervious network security, but there are a variety of things IT admins can do to prevent network breaches and protect data and privacy better.
The Web safety and online identity protection experts at SafetyWeb.com and myID.com helped put together a list of ten different data and privacy breach scenarios, along with suggestions and best practices to avoid them.
1. Data Breach Resulting From Poor Networking Choices. Names like Cisco and Sun are synonymous with enterprise-level networking technologies used in large IT departments around the world. Small or medium businesses, however, generally lack the budget necessary for equipment like that. If an SMB has a network infrastructures at all, it may be built around networking hardware designed for consumer use. Some may forego the use of routers at all, plugging directly into the Internet. Business owners can improve network security and block most threats by using a quality router, like a Netgear or Buffalo brand router and making sure to change the router password from the default.
2. Data Breach Resulting From Improper Shredding Practices. Dumpster diving identity thieves target businesses that throw out paperwork without shredding it. Most home shredders will suffice for small businesses in a pinch, but a commercial shredder is a wise investment if private information is printed and shredded daily. Make sure that documents with sensitive information or personally identifiable data are thoroughly shredded before disposal.
3. Tax Records Theft Around Tax Time. On a similar note, businesses need to pay extra attention to incoming and outgoing information related to taxes. Businesses must ensure that tax returns are dropped off at the post office and refunds are collected promptly from the mailbox. Identity thieves often steal tax returns from an outbox or mailbox.
4. Identity Theft Resulting From Public Databases. Individuals, especially business owners, often publish lots of information about themselves in public databases. It is a sort of catch-22 because a small business owner wants to maximize exposure while still protecting individual privacy. Businesses are registered with the county clerk, telephone numbers are in the phone book, many individuals have Facebook profiles with their address and date of birth. Many identity thieves can use information searchable publicly to construct a complete identity. SMBs need to think carefully about how and where to gain exposure for the business, and consider the consequences of sharing sensitive information publicly.
5. Identity Theft Resulting from Using a Personal Name Instead of Filing a DBA. Along those same line, sole proprietors that do not take the time to file a Doing Business As application are at a far higher risk of identity theft due to their personal name, rather than their business names, being published publicly.