11 Ways to Protect Your Business

The Internet is a big, new world with ever- present dangers and rules/regulations that are constantly changing. You must be prepared to protect your business from legal problems and from hackers who are ready and able to steal your customer data, proprietary information, and money.

Use Complicated Passwords
Remembering passwords can be challenging, but it is critical to use “good” (which means complicated) passwords – and change them frequently. When I say complicated, I meant random, nonsensical passwords that are impossible to guess. Absolutely avoid common passwords such as your children’s names, family birthdays, your pet’s name, or anything related to your company. Set up a schedule to change passwords regularly; and restrict assess to sites – particularly sites that involve finances, cash flow, and confidential information.

As your company grows, you will probably begin to use consultants and other outside help. Always give them temporary passwords and be sure to delete when they are no longer with the company. To be on the safe side, change all passwords whenever an individual leaves the company.

Back-up Everything
Systems crash, computer’s fail, and other disasters happen – that is life!  Protect your information. Put a system in place for backing up your systems and information. This must include backing up and storing all data on a routine basis. Also outline a clear procedure if you lose data – including who has access to the backed up data (You and one or two other people that you trust completely.) It would be wise to back-up your data in more than one place. You may want to consider using cloud services as well as a physical back-up.

A good place to start for more information on data storage is with this Website Business Online Backup Services Review (2015 Best). It provides a “What to Look For” section, plus reviews and comparisons on 10 offerings. It also offers a link to reviews on the “Top 10 Best Cloud Storage.”

Invest in Security
Hacking is commonplace on the Internet, which makes security an absolute necessity. DO NOT skip this step. Invest in a solid security program or service that will ensure your network is safe. Update whenever updates are offered.

You may also choose to have your network tested. There are services that try to hack into your site in order to discover its vulnerabilities.

At the very least, you should have an anti-virus/security software program such as Norton 360 installed on each of your computers, but that is the bare minimum. Do some research, talk to your friends, or check with technicians who know their business to make sure that you are completely protected. An experience Staples technician is often a good source of information.

15 (FREE!) Security Tools You Should Try offered by Network World is a site that would be a good starting point in your research.

Develop an Employee Security Policy
If you have employees regardless of the number, you should have a security policy in place. It does not have to be complex, but it should explain “acceptable-use” of computers, etc. for all employees – how they are expected to behave online and how data is to be shared, plus data restrictions. It should be noted that you will be monitoring online activities and the possible penalties for non-compliance. As part of their “on-boarding” process they should read and sign the policy.

Protect Customer Data
Explain clearly on your Website how customer data is stored and used in your company. Write a privacy policy that covers everything and post it on your website. Treat customer data like a rare precious metal and protect it well. Make sure all confidential data are encrypted and employee access is restricted to ONLY the information they need to do their jobs.

Conduct Security Training
It is important to have a security awareness program in place to ensure that employees are aware of the importance of protecting sensitive information, what they should do to handle information securely, and the risks of mishandling information.  Train your staff well on security procedures and how to avoid malware. Establish clear guidelines on downloading from the internet and teach them about common threats such as phishing schemes. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Create an Acceptable Use Policy
Along with your security training, create an “Acceptable Use Policy. “ This is a written statement that outlines what uses of the company’s computers are appropriate or inappropriate, especially in regards to internet use. It’s important to have these guidelines spelled out clearly.

Keep in Touch Through Multiple Channels
Communicate regularly with your customers through several different channels. This is your safety net. If one channel fails, you can still make contact with them through other channels. For example, if your site gets taken down, you can still maintain contact through social media or through your auto-responder email list.

Establish Disaster Protocols
Establish clear protocols for any type of disaster that could occur, from data breaches to natural disasters that could shut down your company. Be prepared to act quickly and in an organized manner if disaster strikes.

Have a Legal Advisor
Use a legal advisor to when you set up your business. Do you homework. Educate yourself on what you can and cannot do in order to operate within the law. Rules and regulations are changing constantly when it comes to use of the Internet. Do not set yourself up for problems that are the result of ignorance, which has never been a legal defense.

When legal documentation is necessary, make sure that it is in order. Even though we are in the electronic age, it is a good practice to keep hard copies of important paperwork.

Pay Attention to Changes in Internet Law
There have been major changes over the past few years that affect anyone doing business online – especially ecommerce. You must be alert and aware of such changes. Stay updated.

Copyright Law and how it pertains to what you do online is also an area that you must understand. Many people work under the assumption that if you see it on the Internet, it is public domain, and you are free to use it as you please – NOT SO! This is particularly a problem with images.

Be careful. Be sure that the information you publish is original information – not plagiarized; and be sure to access images from a reliable source and have the proper license to use them.

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