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Is your business cyber-safe? How to stay protected from online scammers

2.5 min read

Staying vigilant with email security can easily get pushed aside when operating your own business. But failing to use a critical eye on messages in your inbox can leave you and your business vulnerable.

Some email scams to look out for: 

  • Malicious attachments that could shut down your computer system and demand ransom

  • Email messages that bait you into releasing login information

  • Emails that appear to be internal, from a high-level executive with directions to release large sums of money

Become fraud-aware and cyber-secure

Staff are the first line of defence against online scammers.

Your staff are the first line of defence against online scammers and, with the right knowledge, the best line of defence, says Jennifer Hogan, an FCC Senior Security Analyst in the IT division.

To make your employees fraud-aware and cyber-secure, the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre recommends the following:

  • Train staff about cyber security and fraud

  • Implement policies or plans to help employees detect fraud

  • Compile a list of companies your business uses to help employees know which contacts are real and which aren't

  • Educate staff at every level to be wary of unsolicited calls and emails and to not share any information

Hogan recommends resources like SANs Ouch Newsletter – a monthly newsletter offering cybersecurity tips on topics like spotting attack messages, online shopping security and security for cloud-based applications. Hogan also recommends the Government of Canada’s Get Cyber Safe to heighten cyber security awareness.

Create strong passwords

One of the most important technical measures to protect your data is creating strong passwords. CAFC offers the following tips:

  • Use a minimum of eight characters, including upper and lower-case letters, and at least one number and a symbol

  • Create unique passwords for every online account, including social networks, emails and financial

  • Use combination passphrases that are easy to remember, but hard for others to guess

  • Avoid using “password” or “12345678”

  • Never use your name, date of birth or other personal information

  • Set up email alerts notifying you if your accounts have been accessed, used or changed

Consider additional measures

Hogan recommends added measures that can keep small food and beverage operations safe from online hackers and scammers:

  • Multi-factor authentication

  • Encryption

  • Patching

  • Built-in antivirus software

  • Removing escalated or administrator privileges for everyday tasks

  • Take inventory of hardware and software assets, and use firewalls

Protect your customers

The Better Business Bureau also stresses businesses’ need to protect their customers.

The BBB suggests fostering a culture of privacy among employees. Limit who sees what by identifying staff members who access customer data and ensure they’re trained and accountable.

Physical security also helps. The BBB recommends clean desk policies and locked file drawers and doors.

Overlooking online dangers heightens the risk of falling prey to fraud and data breaches. Employees need training and policies to follow to shut out hackers and scammers.

Report it

If email fraudsters hit your business, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. Privacy breaches can be reported to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada at 1-800-282-1376.

Article by: Richard Kamchen

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