In 2011 it was Sony, Epsilon, and U.S. government sites among those who had fallen victim to computer hackers.

With the New Year under way, word comes from Israeli officials that the country’s stock exchange and its national airline had their Web sites paralyzed on Jan. 16 by a Middle East hacker network. While officials said the sites did not contain sensitive information impacting both trading and the safety of passengers, there were concerns nonetheless. And given that Israel is a security-focused country, it comes as no surprise that these recent cyber-attacks have left officials looking for improved ways to protect such information. El Al Israel Airlines reportedly took down its Web site after a hacker warned that the site was being targeted by a number of individuals who are pro-Palestinian. Meantime, a spokesperson for the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange reported that the site was inundated by electronic requests that brought it to a crawl, however it was still operating. Trading was not affected, according to the spokesperson. Given this is the latest of much publicized hacking attacks worldwide, it should lead more and more businesses to think about what Internet security precautions they have in place to prevent such events.

According to a 2011 survey from Ponemon Research of nearly 600 U.S. businesses, 90 percent of respondents reported their organizations’ computers had been breached at least once by hackers over a one-year period. Meantime, close to 60 percent stated that two or more breaches had occurred over the past year. If your company’s site is vulnerable to attacks, there are steps you can and should take to lessen the dangers.

Among them are:

  1. Put in place a firewall – The firewall is the buffer that keeps hackers and viruses away from computer networks. Firewalls intercept network traffic and permit only authorized data to come through;
  2. Put together a corporate security policy – Put in place a corporate security policy that details practices to secure the network. The policy should educate employees to select unique passwords that provide a mix of letters and numbers. Passwords should be switched every three months to lessen hackers’ ability to obtain possession of a functioning password. When someone departs the company, the appropriate personnel should immediately delete the user name and password;
  3. Install an anti-virus software program – All computers in the office should run the most recent form of an anti-virus protection subscription. Also educate your employees regarding viruses and discourage them from opening e-mail attachments or e-mail from senders they are not familiar with.;
  4. Update your systems regularly – Just like you update a car or other items you use regularly, it is important to update your computer’s virus protection software. Schedule a time to regularly do this so that all your office computers have been checked and are shown to be running the latest virus protection programs. It is also a good idea to not run unnecessary network services that may be on your office machines, but are not frequently used. Such programs can fall victim to viruses because one forgets about them and then goes to use an unprotected service;
  5. Backup your data – Lastly, make sure that all your data is properly backed up. In the event your office computers are hacked, both the operating system and the software programs can be reinstalled, however, data can only be restored in the event it is frequently backed up.

Dave Thomas, who covers among other items starting a business, writes extensively for, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.

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