Starting a business and building it from the ground up takes a lot of effort, money, and time. Most business owners are often even workaholics by choice — their businesses are their most valuable assets. However, though large companies are attractive to various scoundrels lurking outside, small to midsize companies are a criminal’s favorite venture. Because of that, learning how to protect your business, no matter its size is no longer something you can ignore. Everything is at stake for you and could fall apart with a simple hacker attack.
But, I also want to make sure you know how to secure your business physically as well. I know how it feels to see all your belongings have been taken away from you in a flash. In line with that, here’s a guide on various tips and tricks I’ve uncovered by talking to business owners who had to learn the hard way that securing their business in every way possible is a must. There’s no reason for you to follow in their footsteps — these tips will essentially secure all your hard work!
Digital Protection in 5 Simple Steps
1. Create Strong Passwords
A business email is a lot different from your personal one; you’re not likely to share confidential data in an email sent to a friend — or at least I don’t recommend it. Thus, it requires a secure password, one not even your spouse would be able to figure out.
Now, hackers are pretty smart, no doubt about it. There are various programs and tools they can use to hack into the computers at the office. Because of that, using terms that have nothing to do with you, as well as symbols and numbers, is an excellent idea. However, the whole company has to take part in this by keeping the passwords a secret. There’s really no point in writing them down on a piece of paper that you’ll hide in your desk or, worse, saving it on the computer.
Creating strong passwords is a bit inconvenient, but it’s necessary; these are your first line of defense against cyber attacks.
2. Teach Your Employees About Email Cyber Attacks
Phishing is one of the most convenient cyber attacks, as it counts on the one human flaw most of us have — we’re simply curious! When you get an email that seems to have come from a reputable source, you wonder what it contains (and hope it’s something juicy). Thus, you may even open some attachments, overlooking the fact that some of the links just seem a bit weird.
Employees who are still not up to speed on phishing could expose your business’ vulnerabilities. So, ensure that you’re using a proper enterprise-level filtering system and that you’ve trained your staff to recognize reputable sources. Moreover, they shouldn’t download files and attachments or click on any links that they didn’t ask for. Pay attention to shortened links and strange file extensions in particular. These are telltale signs someone’s trying to get a hold of the data!
3. Monitor Social Media
The online world offers information on a silver platter, so don’t assume anything you say online will remain a secret. That goes for social media, in particular, where it’s relatively easy to disseminate information, which could then end up in the wrong hands.
Creating a social media policy is imperative if you’re mainly using platforms such as Instagram or a blog to market your business. It should outline what can and cannot be said or mentioned, no matter who’s in charge of the accounts. Also, consider NDAs as a way of protecting your trade secrets. Employees should know that they’ve signed an agreement that forbids them from ever talking about some things, let alone sharing them with the online world.
4. Invest in a Quality Anti-Virus Software
Smaller businesses may be tempted to skip this part, as anti-virus software is often annoying and costs money. It’s one of those expenses that may not seem necessary as you may never be targeted by a criminal.
However, not having anti-virus software and using it properly could cost you your whole business. It’s just too easy to plant viruses and extort companies that will most certainly want their data back. That could quickly destroy everything you’ve built, so paying for top-notch software is a small investment that offers plenty of value.
5. Avoid BYOD
I get it — starting a business and making sure you’re turning a profit is essential. But, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a considerable security threat that cannot be excused by the overall low costs.
Of course, having a BYOD policy in place is likely to boost productivity among employees and make them more comfortable. It’s rather useful if you’re outsourcing personnel. But, the security breaches that could occur due to employees using other networks (such as their home network) and not protecting the data well are just not worth risking your business.
That isn’t to say you cannot do anything about it or implement a successful BYOD policy. Education in cybersecurity is vital in any business, not to mention that the IT department can do a lot in terms of securing the personal devices and ensuring they are up to standard. Encrypted data, as well as locked-down devices, are common in that case. However, even then, you have to consider what would happen if the devices were stolen or otherwise misused.
Protect Your Business Physically: 4 Steps to Remember
1. Use Security Cameras
Should a security breach occur, the first thing you ought to check is your security camera. The footage can serve as evidence and even show the culprits. It can explain what truly happened and help law enforcement do its job well.
On top of that, installing security cameras is a no-brainer because they can actually serve as a deterrent. If someone’s trying to get into the office and sees the cameras, they might back out of the whole thing. With today’s technology, it’s possible to find criminals in just a few hours if they haven’t thought their plans through, all thanks to the best business security cameras.
2. Install an Alarm System
Security cameras go hand in hand with an excellent alarm system. Motion-detecting, in particular, is an impressive feature to have, as it can spook whoever is trying to break in by setting off a blood-chilling alarm.
However, it’s vital to install the alarm system properly so as not to disturb the staff during regular office hours. Also, consider supplementing the effects with some heavy-duty doors and windows, Kensington locks on laptops and desktop computers, and deadbolt locks for the exterior doors.
3. Update Key Control Policies
Little do most business owners know that even mechanical keys can pose a security threat, especially today, when most of us don’t even consider enforcing a key control policy. These may seem secure since only the individuals who receive them can use them. But that’s the problem — they can use them, quite often actually, and expose where they keep them. The keys can be stolen. Besides that, mechanical keys cannot tell you who used them, unlike key cards.
4. Know Who’s Entering the Office, When, and Why
Creating a visitor management policy is crucial for any business out there. Having an unknown person snoop around the office is a liability in and of itself. Whether they’ll only swipe a few pens or transfer confidential data onto an external drive — you never know what a new face can bring to your business.
Because of that, make sure that the policy covers every single possible visitor out there. They ought to be correctly identified, guided to a controlled entry point, as well as kept in a secure area and away from off-limits rooms. Also, employees should know how to recognize suspicious behavior and whether the individuals could do any harm to the business. Again, education and proper training are critical in that case.
Keep in Mind that Internal Theft Is Common
Trusting anyone with your whole heart in this day and age is a huge liability — you never know how someone could surprise you. Even an employee who acts nice may wreak havoc as soon as they quit the job; if they had access to confidential data, but you failed to make them sign an NDA, for example, you could face a world of trouble.
A more innocent (but still a huge) issue would be internal theft. Employees may sometimes swipe a few things here and there, such as staplers and other gadgets. On the other hand, some of them may think “go big or go home” and resort to stealing inventory and equipment worth thousands of dollars.
In that case, organizing regular inventories is vital to keep track of all the business assets under your control. Also, when it comes to money, never rely on only one person. The accounting team may be loyal, or at least they seem like they are, but it’s always good to have an external accountant to keep an eye on the cash flow.
Hopefully, securing your business now will be a piece of cake. From what I understood while researching this topic, criminals believe that smaller companies are willing to lower their costs by downright ignoring some of the most common threats out there.
That makes them the perfect targets, especially if the company lets its employees use their own devices or doesn’t take anti-virus software seriously. So, it’s crucial to disappoint those villains a bit.
Although most of these things could put a dent in your company’s budget, they’ll also ensure it continues to grow over the years. Besides, they’ll protect valuable data and equipment, as well as trade secrets — things your business requires to stay afloat.
Did you enjoy this article and learned something from it? Tell me in the comments what you thought about it and whether you’ve had to deal with any security threats recently. What’s more, if you like the article, share it with other business owners and enterprises. You just might help them see the reasoning behind all these precautions.