Some of the greatest threats to the IT security of your small business can come from you and your employees. This isn’t to say that we’re all lazy.  Actually, it’s quite the opposite.  Most of us simply don’t know the steps to take or think we’re too busy to deal with it, so we unintentionally risk exposing company data to people who could cause damage.

Here are 5 ways our own behaviors can make our data vulnerable:

Mobile Device Carelessness

Do you have a password on your mobile device?  You should.  If it gets lost or stolen, that’s an easy way to at least slow someone down from getting access to your phone.  It also buys time for your phone to be wiped remotely if possible.

Poor Office Practices

If you have forms with credit card numbers or other customer data, keep them secure.  An employee who writes down a customer’s credit card number on a piece of paper, crumples it, and tosses it in the trash is putting that customer data at risk.

Weak Passwords

Make passwords strong using upper and lower case characters, numbers, and symbols.  According to Bloomberg Businessweek, if you use a single word as your password, it’s hackable in under 20 minutes – maybe under 10.  Stay away from passwords that are easily identified with you such as names of pets or family members.

Storing Passwords on Post-It Notes

Keeping your password on a post-it note on your monitor (or in your desk drawer) is a no-no.  There are several useful password managers available.  Your IT provider can help you find what’s best for you.

Opening Suspicious Emails

Resist the urge to open an attachment or click on a link for an offer that looks too good to be true.  It probably is, and by clicking on the link you’ve exposed your computer and possibly your company’s network to a free search by a hacker.  Sometimes it looks like the sender may be someone you know, but double-check the “From” column to see if the email address matches the sender’s name.  If it doesn’t, delete the message.