If you own a construction company, you might feel pretty safe from hackers. Your company may not have a website, physical office location or a big staff. But unless you operate on a paper-only basis, you could be susceptible to hackers who want to exploit information and steal dollars from you, your company, employees, and clients.

Why would anyone want to hack your company when there are so many others out there? Because they can.

Hackers around the world are constantly looking for ways to steal money and information from American businesses of all sizes. They’ve captured thousands of credit card numbers through major retailers like Target. They’ve gained access and exploited information from all types of organizations, ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to public utilities and small private companies. They find ways to get everyday people to download corrupted files or programs or even emails that give them access to the information on your computer.

While it may seem unlikely, construction companies like yours have plenty of things that hackers want access to, like bank account information, credit cards, incoming receivables, employee records and personal information. But hacking is preventable. Many individuals fall prey to phishing scams where hackers are able to take control of a computer and force you to pay them so that you can access it again.

Here are a few easy steps you can take to minimize the chances of being hacked.

Update your passwords regularly

Do you use the same username and/or password for everything? If so, those accounts may be compromised already. Hackers, knowing that most people use the same log-in information, then use those same credentials to gain access to accounts on hundreds of different websites.

Large companies like Adobe (whose products include Photoshop or Acrobat) have been subject to hackers who stole username and password information from more than 150 million accounts.

While it is less convenient, your information will be exponentially more secure from hackers if you always use different passwords for your online accounts. For the most sensitive accounts like your email, online banking accounts and computer log-ins, you should change the password every three months and require your employees to do the same.

Bonus Tip: Use a service like 1Password so you don’t have to remember all those passwords.

Add extra security

For many online banking and email accounts, you can choose to add another layer of protection to your account called two-step verification. Two-step verification means that the website or bank will alert you if anyone attempts to log into your account from an unrecognized computer. It will also force whoever is logging into that account to input a code that is sent directly to your mobile phone.

Don’t log into unsecure networks

One of the most common ways for your computer and network to be compromised is to access free public WiFi networks like those at airports, coffee shops, or even the library. Because the networks have less protection, hackers can use them to gain access to your computer or accounts. If you need to use those networks, be careful about accessing sensitive information or logging into other secure accounts.

Secure YOUR network

Your own WiFi network is just as vulnerable as your local coffee shop’s if it is left unsecured. And if you’re thinking hackers won’t look for your network, think again. Hackers actually drive around in cars outfitted with antennas just to find unsecured networks. It’s called war-driving.

Cool name. Bad practice.

Protect your WiFi by updating its encryption standard and setting a password that is obscure. Don’t set the password, for example, to your business name plus the year. Hackers will crack that in no time.

Work with a cybersecurity partner

Construction is a group effort industry, so don’t stop that philosophy at the job site. Working with a cybersecurity partner, preferably a local business that can meet with you and answer your questions, can help you secure your data and protect your business.

Train your employees

Your employees already know to secure the shop for the night, but are they locking up their data? Implement a cybersecurity training program for your employees and ensure that those policies and best practices are followed.

Bonus Tip: Not sure what that policy would look like? This is a great place to start with a cybersecurity partner.

For additional resources about how to secure your business online, visit the National Cyber Security Alliance’s Stay Safe Online website.

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Are you still walking around a job site with a clipboard and several coffee-stained checklists? Or dealing with fax machines and frantically rushing to the office to print out documents? Good news! The answer to increasing your productivity is right in your pocket.

If you have a smartphone or are willing to invest in one, you can transform your business operations from an organizational nightmare to a well-oiled machine. Developers have created a seemingly endless number of apps and programs designed to make you more productive.

Here are four types of apps and programs we recommend that can help shore up your workflows:

Apps for Equipment Rentals and Tools

Many large companies in the last several years have released their own apps to make it easier for you to use their products or services. United Rentals has a free UR Jobsite app that allows its customers to access their account information and remove or extend their rental terms, or even shop for used equipment they are selling.

Tool manufacturer Dewalt has a handful of apps, including one that will track the tool battery life and another that can handle job site calculations, from stairs landing height to volume conversions.

Even retailers have apps to simplify new tools and equipment purchases. Most national retailers, like Lee’s ToolsHome Depot and Lowes all allow in-app purchasing.

Apps for Document Signing

There are tons of apps for Apple or Android devices that allow you to sign work forms and other documents on the go. Some of the most popular include Doc U Sign, Adobe Fill & Sign and Sign Easy.

Financial and Accounting Apps

Even many smaller credit unions now have apps that allow you to keep tabs on your current accounts. This can help you track whether or not a wire transfer went through, if one of your vendor processed a big check, or if there is any unusual activity on your account.

Does your payroll or accounting company have an app? Many do, and they can make your life much easier. Paychex, for example, has a handful of different mobile platform options, including one allowing employees to punch in and out for the day on an iPad or tablet on the job site.

Intuit also has a payroll on-the-go option that even has a free direct-deposit feature; business owners can review and edit all the payroll information from their phone or tablet and then authorize the direct deposits.

Any contractor knows that keeping on top of invoices is key in keeping the business running smoothly. There are several app options for this, like Invoice2Go or Invoice by Wave, that can help to draft, track and archive invoices to make it easier to manage cash flow.

There are even some smaller apps, like MileWiz. This automatic driving log removes the worry and work of actively recording mileage on your vehicles for tax purposes or driver reimbursements.

It has been about a decade since the first iPhone was released and now over 200 million Americans have smartphones. There are tens of thousands of apps that allow people to do all sorts of things, from accounting to taking current pictures and videos on the job site. Chances are, your competitors have them and are using them to improve efficiency in their own company. Are you?

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