It’s a fact of life that cyber-security is an area that should be of paramount concern to businesses and entrepreneurs of all kinds. Whether you’re in the market of selling microchips or chocolate mousse, a dreaded data breach is always closer than you might think, and when you or your customers’ information is compromised, it doesn’t just impact your immediate finances, but your credibility as a merchant too.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to happen to you. Read on to learn 6 simple ways you can keep yourself and your company safe from identity thieves and other digital ne’er-do-wells.
If the device you do business on isn’t currently protected with a top-of-the-line virus scanner, start using one ASAP. A good anti-virus program will stop compromising programs such as spyware, trojans and more from getting a foothold in your device before they have the chance to start wreaking havoc on your most sensitive stored information. McAfee and Norton are two of the bigger players, but free software like Avast can work wonders as well, and much of the time even the plain old Windows Defender software that comes bundled with your PC will be up to the task if it’s kept up to date (but more on that later).
It’s a smart move to start using 2-step verification when logging into your business tech. Also known as 2-factor authentication, this is a method of account protection requiring two sequential security confirmations (like a password and then a code sent to your phone, for example) to access the information therein. Many services, such as those provided by Google and Apple, provide easy tutorials on how to add 2-step verification to your account as an extra measure of protection that a password alone can’t provide.
Internal Data Theft
It’s an unfortunate reality that not every employee you hire may end up being trustworthy. If you suspect that one of your workers or partners might be compromising your data, discreet security camera placement will help to catch someone who might be downloading information onto a flash-drive or otherwise spiriting away with sensitive material. Ask a tech-security expert to help you encrypt your financial data in a method that only you and perhaps a trusted partner will be able to crack, as well.
Update Software Frequently
Malware, ransomware, and other types of nefarious digital entities will frequently take advantage of technological loopholes in out-of-date programs to weasel their way into your information. Most tech programs are constantly updating not just for efficiency but security as well, so making sure you’re always checking to see if your trusted software is in its newest edition will go a long way towards keeping your data safe.
Stick to Business
Don’t use your work computers or tablets for anything other than the job you bought them for. Viruses are most frequently found on badly protected websites made for the user’s entertainment, and even reputable sites and apps can fall prey to a hacker’s schemes every now and again. Restrict your computer use at work to work alone—and if you absolutely must take a break, do it on your phone, not company property.
Always Use Backups
It’s true what they say about putting all your eggs in one basket: even if worst comes to worst and you fall victim to a data breach, you can mitigate the harm by making sure your most sensitive information is backed up on an external hard drive or in a cloud storage system. If you use Windows, most operating systems will have a feature where you can boot the computer back to a state from before it was compromised by a virus. You’ll still want to change your passwords and update your security systems, but making sure you have everything important to your business safe and at hand will go a long way to getting you back to daily operations that much faster.
Curious about more ways you can protect yourself and your business? Check out our Small Business Guide to Security as well as our update on Security Tips for Small Business Owners. And if you have any tips or data security experiences you’d like to share with us or your fellow readers, be sure to drop a comment in the field below!