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Critical business intelligence enables you to enjoy many benefits from global marketing such as 24/7 online sales, faster contract closings, instant access to information, the ability to conduct business on mobile devices and peer-to-peer sharing. However, security breaches could cause you to lose proprietary information to company competitors, reveal patent details to thieves and lose personal information that customers entrusted to your care. Security breaches could generate direct costs for credit reimbursements, mandatory customer notifications and data recovery efforts. You could face collateral fines, penalties and legal liabilities, and damage to your reputation could prove insurmountable. The top five risks for small and medium businesses include the following holes in security:

1. Employee Negligence

Employees constitute most companies' greatest assets—but they also generate strong vulnerabilities. Employees will never care about your business the same way you do. Some staff members could maliciously reveal confidential information, but most people simply fail to consider all the implications of their actions. Small and medium businesses often have casual, friendly work environments, and employees trust their coworkers and vendors. In these informal situations, people fail to consider how easily cybercriminals or malicious insiders could breach security and cause catastrophic consequences.

People routinely open email attachments, leave work stations unattended, fail to change passwords, and visit restricted sites or ignore security warnings. Criminals mastermind new ways to steal data every 3.5 seconds, so no company remains immune from online security threats.

2. Mobile Devices

Mobile devices offer many advantages to businesses, but tablets, smartphones and laptops often store proprietary information. People seldom protect their personal devices with passwords, but employees could easily lose mobile devices, temporarily misplace them or lose them to thieves. All of your proprietary data that IT administrators don't directly control could fall into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, mobile devices will only become more common, so you need to address this potential security breach.

3. Breaches You Could Have Prevented with Proper Document Shredding

No breach offers more complete information to criminals than intact documents, waste paper and junk mail. Crooks routinely get account numbers, addresses, phone numbers and other personal information from business trash, and dumpster diving has become the national sport of criminals and scam artists from all countries. Crooks come up with ingenious ways to steal your data or customers' billing information, breaches that you could have prevented with secure document shredding. Of course, paying a full-time employee to shred documents for the better part of the day becomes a colossal waste of time and resources.

You can outsource your paper shredding by delivering waste to trusted services to shred, destroy and recycle. Document shredding by professionals proves astonishingly affordable, fast and secure. Mobile services bring large trucks that can shred paper at your offices, turning tons of paper into glittering confetti. Companies offer certificates of destruction and confirmation videos that substantiate the shredding process. Choose a company that recycles the paper, and you can share your commitment to security and environmentalism on social media sites, strengthening your reputation among potential customers.

4. Social Media Sharing

Social media feature the most popular websites on the Internet, and your company can't afford to ignore the potential marketing benefits, but sharing creates risks of security breaches. Hackers and criminal elements troll these sites and bait the waters with chum to catch the gullible guppies. Phishing involves various strategies that persuade people to reveal proprietary or personal information. Social friends discuss job responsibilities, company duties, and network and software problems, revealing too much information. Spammers and hackers use sophisticated platforms to steal personal data, and legitimate affiliate marketers often earn money on these sites, making them hard to identify. A little social engineering allows criminals to harvest all kinds of personal and company information.

5. Failure to Develop Data-protection Policies

The biggest threat to your security does not involve criminals but apathy. If you fail to create strong security policies and procedures, then you risk encouraging all kinds of security breaches. Training classes, social media regulations, strong passwords, employee monitoring and other steps help to limit possible infractions and security breaches. Also, be sure to add some sort of Server Data Recovery system.

Businesses routinely collect social security numbers, medical information, credit card numbers and other personal information about their customers. You have a legal obligation to protect this information, and you could face major financial losses due to common security breaches. Breaches you could have prevented with proper paper shredding make you liable for negligence. The same holds true for establishing reasonable security precautions, so remember that the best defense has always been a strong offense—implement proactive security measures to safeguard sensitive information.

About The Author: George Hillston is information security specialist who loves to write about business security.

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