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William Mapp | 4/7/2017, 6 a.m. | Updated on 4/6/2017, 4:12 p.m.
With all of the allegations surrounding Russian hackers, news about email leaks, and major intrusions at political organizations, concerns about ...
William Mapp is the CEO of Studio Codeworks, Inc. and author of the Small Business Owner’s Guide to Technology. You can send questions directly to him at will@studiocodeworks.com, and follow him at Twitter.com/WilliamMapp3 Courtesy Logo

With all of the allegations surrounding Russian hackers, news about email leaks, and major intrusions at political organizations, concerns about your own information security shouldn’t be pushed aside. There is no better time to secure yourself and your business than now. This month, I’m giving you five fast tips for protecting your business.

Use the latest software For real, stop using Windows XP! The biggest threat to your enterprise is using outdated and unsecure software. Despite what we see on TV, hackers can’t just breach any system; they need to know something about a computer system in order to hack it. Old software and operating systems are insecure, and security vulnerabilities are shared amongst crackers. Keep your existing systems up-to-date, and upgrade as soon as you are able. And upgrade your browser.

Choose strong passwords Plain text passwords are very hackable. Choose passwords that combine letters, numbers, and special characters. I get it; it can be hard to remember multiple passwords. Cleverly use letters to represent numbers, ‘3’ for ‘E’, and use characters in place of numbers ‘!’ for ‘1’ or ‘I’. Use 8 characters or more and a mixture of upper and lower case.

Use secure websites Before purchasing online or handing over contact details on the web look for ‘https’ in the website’s address. HTTPS uses a security standard called secure sockets layer that verifies you are communicating with the site you think you are communicating with. HTTPS also encrypts any data shared between you and the server.

Protect your phones We live and work in a mobile world. If your staff uses phones to conduct business make sure they are the latest editions in hardware and software. Newer iPhones and Android devices support fingerprint-to-unlock technology. Use it! Also, avoid storing information on phones that are rooted or jailbroken

Stop using flash drives In some cases they are unavoidable, but in most cases DropBox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive are better alternatives to removable drives. Plugging a flash drive in a foreign computer is akin to having unprotected sex. You can spread a virus to your computer. If you need to share files with a colleague or prospect ask them to email it or use a cloud storage option. If you follow these five tips you stand a better chance of preventing data leaks and compromising your personal and professional data.