You probably hear about a major data breach in the news at least a few times a month, and they rock some of the world’s largest corporations to the core. Yet large corporations are not the only targets for hackers. The information you have on the computers in your office is often just as valuable, and a cybercriminal would like nothing more than to sell it to the highest bidder.
You need to protect your business, and fortunately there are plenty of methods to do so. They aren’t necessarily expensive, and once you maintain a working environment where security is a priority, you will find that it isn’t a hard investment to make.
Here are five tips that will help you improve the online security of your developing business:
Use a Virtual Private Network
If you have any employees that go out into the field or in public a great deal for work, you will want to equip their work devices (you should provide work devices) with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a service used to connect a device to an offsite secure server using an encrypted connection. If your employees don’t have some sort of protection when they use public networks, then hackers can easily intercept any data travelling over the network.
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This data can include confidential client information, vital business data and other important items that would cause a crisis if allowed into the wrong hands. The service is an inexpensive investment and a valuable one if you get a quality provider.
Train Your Employees Frequently
IBM’s 2014 Cyber Security Intelligence Index found that 95 percent of online security incidents involved human error. This means that one employee (you likely know who they are) is much more dangerous than all of the hackers that would want to attack your business. Negligence is much worse than ill-will.
Before you go and invest in expensive equipment and services to protect your company’s data, make sure that you invest in training your employees first. It might be a good idea to hire an outside speaker or expert for the occasion. If you have an IT expert on your payroll, ask them what they think. They’ll likely have plenty of suggestions for you.
Have a Regular Review
When was the last time your company had a review of all security procedures and practices? When left on its own, a company will become naturally outdated in its security practices and be unable to keep up with the new practices and technologies hackers are using to steal data.
What your small business needs to do is have a planned review every couple of months (no more than three) that takes a look at every aspect of the internet security of your company. Make it a time for both suggestions and action, and prepare for each meeting by taking a look at the latest trends and threats. Ask what could be improved upon and what defenses are working that could be made even better.
Have Backups Prepared
Does your business have a backup solution of any sort? What would happen if a power outage were to hit? If your servers or computers crashed, how quickly would you be able to recover?
You can’t prevent everything, and you cannot predict everything, so your business needs to have a strong backup solution in use constantly so that vital data isn’t lost, forcing productivity to a standstill. You can get a cloud storage solution for your business, which will be offsite but has a known reputation for a lack of security in most cases. For smaller amounts of data or extremely sensitive data, it is recommended to invest in physical media such as external hard drives or flash drives that can be updated frequently. Keep the drives safe in a locked area, and hackers won’t be able to touch that data.
Encourage Employees to Notice Things
Despite the fact that people are potentially your biggest weakness in terms of internet security, they are also your best (and potentially only) resource in spotting problems before they become data breaches or major issues. Encourage your employees to help each other out in a non-judgmental way, and to additionally let you know about any systemic problems or inefficient procedures that exist. If you can afford it, it would be a good idea to offer a reward to people who discover these problems.
So what are you going to do now? Are you going to implement some new measures in your company or talk to decision makers in your company about some of the above steps? Is there a glaring security hole you know needs to be taken care of right away? Leave a comment below if you have an answer, and leave a comment if you can think of anything else that might be important for businesses to know about online security. Thank you for reading, and I hope that you are better able to protect your business.
Author: Caroline Black is an internet security specialist and blogger who is working on behalf of Secure Thoughts, a website that aims to bring important internet security information to everyone. She is delighted to share these tips with small business owners and employees, and hopes that you will seek out more information on the matter.