Running a small business online may seem like a pretty straightforward proposition and, to a degree, it is. However, any time you go online, you’re opening your operations to others.
If you aren’t careful, your firm could get compromised. Do you have a strategy for protecting your business?
Four Tips for Protecting Your Online Business
Every company is unique, but all organizations need cyber security in order to stay competitive and profitable. If you’ve neglected to protect your firm in the past, now’s the time to step up and give your business the armor it needs.
Here are four basic yet practical suggestions.
1. Secure Your Email Account
Believe it or not, email is where many businesses face the greatest risk. Think about how much sensitive information you share via email.
There’s customer information, transactional data, trade secrets, significant spreadsheets, tax information, employee data … and that only touches the surface. If you aren’t securing your email accounts, then you’re exposing your business to unnecessary threats.
Popular email platforms like Gmail have fairly decent native security features, but you shouldn’t only rely on basic privacy controls. You need to adopt best practices and encrypt all your emails so they can’t be accessed even if they get stolen.
2. Use Complex Passwords
Have you spent any time thinking about passwords in your company? They can be the only thing that stands between your secure files and a hacker who wants them.
If you have weak passwords, then your chances of being compromised are considerably higher than if you prioritize them. The key is to devise a password policy and enforce it.
“Many small businesses struggle to develop a password policy,” says Julia Breaux, an IT compliance manager. “If an organization actually has a password policy, it’s typically lax and influenced more by standards of convenience rather than best practice guidelines.”
A password policy has to explain the significance of passwords clearly, outline rules for password complexity, and explain how often they should be updated.
3. Update All Software Regularly
Software updates and patches can be annoying, especially when you use dozens of different programs and tools. These updates exist for a reason, however.
In many cases, they close security loopholes and vulnerable spots. If you’re using an outdated version, your chances of being targeted and successfully attacked are much greater than if you’ve updated.
The best thing you can do is set all programs, tools, and software to update automatically as soon as a new version is detected. This ensures you’re always current and never exposed to unnecessary risk.
4. Be Wary of Deals That Are “Too Good”
When you’re online, you ought to be skeptical about everything you see. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true, even if they come from a source you recognize.
“If a hyperlink appears in an email, be sure to verify that the destination URL connects to a legitimate site that you intentionally want to visit,” entrepreneur Gay Gaddis suggests. “You can copy/paste the hyperlink into a text file to verify the URL. It is easy to receive emails from ‘friends’ with links to malware. Always send a separate email to your friend to confirm with them about the message if the address appears questionable.”
Security is Serious Business
Security is nothing to scoff at. Just because you’re a small business, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to attacks. The tips highlighted in this article offer an initial foundation, but you shouldn’t stop there. Make sure you’re staying up to date with the trends so your business can continue to stay competitive and profitable for years to come.