These days, cyber crime is a very real and dangerous threat, both personally and professionally. As technology increases, so does the opportunity for cyber crime, as more and more sensitive data is passed around. But, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your business.

There’s one main thing to remember about cyber crime: it’s all about prevention. It’s much easier to avoid something before it happens than to pick up the pieces after. With the proper tools, and a little skepticism and caution, you can keep your sensitive information safe.

Make sure your equipment is up-to-date

Obviously, because cyber crime involves your computer and technological infrastructure, it’s important to have the most up-to-date patches, updates and security software. Cyber criminals target those most vulnerable, so while these things aren’t guaranteed to prevent an attack, it does make it harder for a criminal. It may be just enough to deter an attacker.

For smaller companies, it’s important not to cut corners on security. Make sure you invest in the best business-class antivirus software; it detects, removes and protects against malware (software that damages or disables computers). And, even though many companies protect against malware internally, also be aware that much of what puts your system in jeopardy comes from the internet. Be cautious of websites and applications that could leave you susceptible.

Educate yourself and your staff

It’s important to education yourself, and your staff, before there’s an issue. Your employees should be informed about phishing and social engineering so they understand that it’s NEVER okay to provide sensitive information via an unsolicited phone call or email. As companies become more proactive about protection, criminals become increasingly clever to compensate. Take the time to educate your employees; they are sometimes your first line of defense.

Stay informed so you’re aware of issues right away

The impact of cyber crimes can be greatly reduced if you can catch it right away. You need to know as soon as possible if someone has stolen data, or has attempted to, so you can take proper action. The best way to do this is to stay on top of your accounts and sign up for any possible alerts that inform you of unusual activity right away. Your employees should also be trained to report anything at the first sign of something unusual.

Cyber crime can happen at any time, to anyone. But, with a few tools, and proper planning, you and your business can stay safe from cyber threats. Just be sure to take the time, before something occurs, to strengthen your plan for cyber security. ­