Smart businesses are not only mindful of themselves, but also of their customers. Often, clients entrust their personal information with your company assuming it will be protected.
Data breaches aren’t uncommon. However, if someone does hack into your company’s network and database, it can sabotage your reputation. It’s a costly probability that should not be ignored.
Small Business Security
Security doesn’t have to cost a lot; every business owner can take security measures without spending a heap of money. Other than cyber security threats, there is also the possibility of physical break-ins for brick and mortar businesses.
Here are some affordable security tips your business can use both offline and on.
In today’s technological age security cameras can be found for under $100. Today’s security camera systems, at higher price points, include features such as night vision and waterproof encasing. A security camera is a great investment for any business with a physical storefront. You can watch over your investment from your smartphone or computer, while you’re out of town or relaxing at home.
If you need added protection for your home office, Canary’s wireless security system for apartments and homes offers a complete home security system packed into a single device. It adapts to your home over time, and sends intelligent notifications with HD video directly to your smartphone. That way, you’re never surprised when you walk through the door.
Piper also offers affordable and customizable security for your home office or brick and mortar store. Stay on top of when employees come and go while remotely arming and disarming your system when you’re on the go.
If you prefer to protect your commercial business with more features and easy setup, security services such as ADT offer sirens, battery backup, key panels, and video cameras that will help you keep an eye on business operations when you’re away.
One of the most important security tips for business owners is to secure hardware that connects to the Internet, this includes your laptop, smartphone, tablet or fax and copier. Without a secure connection, someone could easily hack into your computer’s network from anywhere in the world.
It might come as a surprise, but hacking into an unsecured Wi-Fi network takes mere minutes to do. It’s so easy that even a child can do it.
So, how can you go about securing your connection? Well it’s actually easy. First off, always add a password to your Wi-Fi, if possible. If you offer free Wi-Fi to its patrons, then be sure to use a separate connection for internal business operations.
Next, install an anti-virus program across all of your devices. You can get one for free that still serves its purpose quite well, such as Panda Free AntiVirus or anti-malware and internet security software like Malwarebytes. Most anti-virus and anti-malware products also offer mobile security for your smartphone, which should also be installed if you use the Internet on your phone.
Some anti-virus programs also contain anti-theft features. If you’re looking for dedicated anti-theft solutions, LoJack for Laptops features remote data and device security to prevent use of a lost laptop, protect privacy remotely, and map a laptop’s location. The service includes a dedicated theft recovery team that works with local law enforcement to track a stolen laptop.
Meanwhile, Prey is an all-in-one cross-platform security solution for laptops, tablets, and phones with tracking and reporting technology to help you track your assets 24/7.
Mobile security companies like Lookout provide personal and business security solutions. The free Lookout app comes in handy if you or your employees ever lose a mobile device. The app also has the capability to turn your device’s features – from the front-facing camera to the lock screen – into defensive countermeasures that make thieves think twice.
Lastly and most importantly, every small business should use a VPN or Virtual Private Network. This remote server let’s you connect to the Internet with an encrypted connection. Whenever you complete an action over the Internet, it will be filtered through the VPN’s server so you remain anonymous.
Meanwhile, it will be nearly impossible for anyone to uncover your IP address or location when you’re connected to a VPN, since they will see the location and IP address of the VPN instead of your own.
The main feature that makes VPN attractive is that it protects your business via encryption. This layer of added security will make your business an unfavorable target to hackers.
VPN services are often affordable and usually run between $5 and $15 per month.
Is Software Alone, Enough?
Even with your Internet connection secured and a monitoring system at yor physical location, there are still a couple of ways someone could gain access to important files.
Clicking on unfamiliar links, for example, can cause you (and your business) a lot of trouble. Though common online security mistakes can be an entryway for hackers, they’re also easy to avoid.
For starters, check all of your passwords. Are they more than eight characters long? Do they contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as at least one number? If so, they’re considered strong, which means they’re less likely to be cracked.
To make your passwords even stronger, add a symbol or two when possible. It would also be wise to avoid using the same password for more than one of your accounts.
Here are a few other ways to avoid being scammed or hacked.
Nigerian 419 Scam
A common scam going on lately is the Nigerian 419 Scam. It typically appears in the form of an email that either has some sort of sob story in it or includes someone claiming they want to be business partners with you. In almost every case of this, you will need to send them money so they can then have their own money supposedly released to them.
They will claim that they’re going to reimburse you or even pay you a large sum of money after you send the amount they need to have it released to them. If you ever receive an email that is asking for money in general, don’t respond, as it is most definitely a scam.
Another common email-related scam that I’ve seen is one where you will receive an email labeled as being sent from someone you know. In the email, you’ll find a hyperlink, which no doubt, leads to a malicious site.
Whenever you’re faced with a hyperlink, always hover your cursor over it; don’t click when you do this, just place the cursor directly over the hyperlink.
When you do, the URL will show up, and you can avoid it if it is an unfamiliar website.
Not all sites are legitimate and when you’re browsing on a computer that has your business’ information on it, you could end up sacrificing your customer base and reputation. For example, think of how your customers might feel if they receive an email that they believe is from you, and it crashes their computer.
Files that contain any sort of personal information (especially that of your clients) should always be password protected. To learn how you can do this, check out this guide. Besides password protecting your files, you should also consider password protecting any computer is used for business purposes.
Security Makes All the Difference
The loss business’s data can cost you a lot, especially when you aren’t sure how to track down the person behind it. Hackers rarely leave behind traces of their identity.
With a smart and limited investment, you can keep your business secure, both online and offline. Ultimately, better security leads to improve trust between you and your customers, making them more likely to spend their money at your establishment and return in the future.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Cassie Phillips is a technology enthusiast and internet security guru writing on behalf of SecureThoughts. She enjoys sharing her personal experiences with others who can benefit from learning from her mistakes. Connect with @SecureThoughtsC on Twitter.