Whenever you take part in any online activity, you are potentially opening yourself up to a lot of risks. Hackers, unauthorised access, malware, and leaks can all threaten a business that has online elements. Even if you don’t sell online, but simply store your customer data on a network that is connected to the internet, you could be at risk. Here’s how to ensure that your activity is always safe and secure for your business.
Who has access to your business website back end? How about other parts of the network? Who uses your Wi-Fi? Make sure that everything is as private as possible, limiting access only to those who really need it. The fewer people have access to something, the less chance there is of something going wrong. Make sure that all passwords, including for private staff accounts, are strong and can’t be guessed easily. They also should not be written down anywhere, and everyone should log out when not using the system.
Make sure that you have security software on all of your computers and devices that connect to the business internet, including anti-virus solutions and firewalls. Keep all software up to date at all times, and choose only brands that you can trust. Make sure that you take only safe internet payments through a system which is secure and cannot be hacked. Make sure that your payment system helps to prevent fraud. All customer data should also be kept on a secure server and encrypted using the latest security standards. A third-party solution like PayPal can help you with this.
Use a private email account when registering your domain name, and destroy any unneeded client details by shredding and then sending off the paper to be burned. This includes if you write down a client’s address for a few seconds for reference – and anything you put on the internet should only be done within your secure network. Do not share client details even within your team unless absolutely necessary, and ensure no one can get unauthorised access to your client database.
Should a failure hit your system, you could lose everything. Back up your data to ensure this does not happen. You can save it to a physical disc or drive, but if so, make sure it never leaves the office and is never accessed without authorisation. You can also store it on the cloud if you choose reliable and secure back-up server, like Box, which is not going to be vulnerable to attacks. If hackers get into your main system to delete or download data, they should not be able to get to your back-ups as well.
Put a spam filter in place on the business email accounts, and consider putting a pop-up blocker or ad blocker on all internet browsers. Follow this up with staff awareness to be sure that no one is tempted to click on suspicious ads, download files from untrusted sources, or send money to any Nigerian princes. Where possible, delete spam mail immediately instead of opening it.
Train staff on online security and have policies in place about what they can and cannot do. This should be reinforced regularly and updated with the latest best practices. The policies must apply to collecting, storing, accessing, and sharing any and all data types.
Online security is crucial for any type of business, and you simply can’t afford to overlook it. Put these tips into action or risk losing customers, losing funds, or even losing your business.
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