When you’re a business owner, you hold the responsibility of ensuring that all of your data remains protected. If a security breach occurs, it could mean the loss of customers and important data, or even the reputation of your business plummeting beyond repair. Hackers can steal the identity of your customers, employees or even yourself, so it’s important to know how to properly secure your business’ data.
Security mishaps are not uncommon, even amongst the largest companies, but avoiding them can be quite simple. Even common activities, such as using an unsecured WiFi network, can be the beginning of a major security breach. Here are a few affordable internet security tips that could save your company a lot of trouble.
Start With Your Accounts
One of the most common ways people leave themselves open to cyberattacks is by forgetting to, or being unaware of how they should, secure their online accounts. The main problem lies in the passwords that are used. Sometimes they are too basic and easy for others to guess, or they are being used for more than one account.
Each of your passwords should be changed every few months and consist of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols (whenever possible). They should also be at least eight characters long and be sure to exclude any personal information (any name associated with your company would make a weak password, for example). If you have a lot of passwords and remembering them all is difficult, you might want to consider using specific phrases combined with numbers as your passwords.
There’s also the option of saving your passwords on a service, such as Blur, which will save your login details for websites and even create strong passwords for you if you choose. Blur encrypts the information stored and also syncs them to all of your devices. Another useful feature Blur has to offer is the ability to mask your email address when filling in online forms.
Though Blur is a great option, you are sharing your personal information with a company by using it and security vulnerabilities are a possibility as well. However, even if you don’t store your passwords on Blur, you can still take advantage of the other internet security features it has to offer, which can definitely help you to protect your business.
Lastly, when dealing with company accounts, you might have to share login details at times. When doing so, you might want to consider using LastPass Enterprise, which will assist you with securely sharing passwords and accounts with your employees and business associates.
Secure Your Internet Connection(s)
It’s not always possible to avoid public WiFi, especially if you tend to travel somewhat often, but every time any of your devices connects to an unsecured network, you’re leaving the information of your company open to hackers. Unfortunately they can hang out nearby and access anyone’s device that is connected to the internet without encryption.
Luckily you can encrypt your connection, which will keep your business much safer whenever you or your employees are using the internet. To do this, you’ll need a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Using a VPN not only encrypts your connection, but it will also mask your location by hiding your IP address, as well as unblock geo-restricted content online (which is very useful when traveling).
According to SecureThoughts.com, ExpressVPN in particular offers the most secure connection and the best customer support out of all the other VPN services available. ExpressVPN is priced at $12.95 per month, but can be purchased for as little as $8.32 per month if you pay for 12 months upfront, making it a very affordable option to secure all of your devices that connect to the internet.
Use an Anti-Virus Program
Even the most tech savvy can inadvertently download or acquire malware on their computer or mobile device. Since it’s likely that you’ll be using the internet a lot while managing your business, it’s wise to use an anti-virus program. Some of these programs will warn you if a website if suspected of containing malware, but most importantly, they will allow you to scan your device for viruses that could wreak havoc if left unchecked.
Depending on the anti-virus program you choose, you might also be able to utilize anti-theft features, which will help you to locate your device if it’s stolen or missing or even wipe the data off of it so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. As far as options go, there are many anti-virus programs to choose from, which can be free if you don’t decide to upgrade for additional features. Be sure to install them on all of your devices that connect to the internet and complete a full virus scan at least once a month.
Backup Your Data
If by chance your business’ data becomes compromised, you might end up losing a lot of important information. Backing up all of your data will allow you to restore your files if this ever occurs. For this purpose, you’ll want to back up all of your crucial files as soon as possible.
When you do, be sure to store the backup on more than one device or piece of hardware (such as an external hard drive, thumb drive, or SD card). If you need help doing this, refer to your operating systems’ website for instructions. You can also store your files on cloud based storage services like Dropbox if you choose.
Either way, don’t forget to keep backups of your company’s website as well (tutorials should be available on your web hosts’ page)!
Keeping your business secure online doesn’t have to hard to do, nor expensive. When you utilize the aforementioned tips, your business will be much more secure overall. Though gaining complete immunity from security breaches is never guaranteed, implementing online security measures will make it rare for cyberattacks towards your business to occur.
Most importantly, don’t forget to educate and train your employees about these internet security tips in order to better protect the personal information of both you and your customers. Great business practices are what create repeat customers after all!
Many of us dream of starting a small business, and thanks to SmallBusinessCan.com, those in the process of starting or managing their own business have a great resource to rely on. I appreciate SmallBusinessCan.com allowing me to publish this article on their blog. When you’re done reading, I recommend you read one of their many helpful posts, such as “Online Business Data Tools for Small Business.”