The phrase any business owner most dreads hearing at the moment is probably “data breach.” A data breach means you failed to protect your customers’ information and that you’re about to lose the trust of your clientele.
It seems like every major company has had a data breach in the past year, but while a big company can survive the PR nightmare, a small business often can’t.
Even worse, if the big boys can’t keep hackers out of their systems, how can a smaller company that’s operating on a shoestring budget hope to stay safe? It seems almost impossible.
Fortunately, avoiding some basic mistakes that companies of any size can make will help minimize the risk. Taking care of these won’t make you 100% safe, but it should make a data thief’s job harder. So, let’s get started on protecting your business.
1. Trusting employees too soon
Most small businesses have records that could be extremely valuable to anyone willing to commit identity fraud. Criminals know this, and your customers’ personal information could be worth more than an employee’s yearly salary.
Just because you trust someone enough to hire them doesn’t mean that you should give them an all-access pass to your networks. Work with your tech team to set up layered access to your company’s records. People should only be able to see what they need to do their job.
Even something as simple as making your employees use Standard computer accounts keeps them from slipping data-stealing software onto your network or accidentally downloading it. Tap or click here to learn how to set up a standard account.
Similarly, if an employee’s job demands that they always have access to your customers’ sensitive information, then always do your due diligence. You can do a fair bit of digging into someone’s past yourself online. Tap or click here for the steps to take.
Your employees won’t be offended if you explain your reasoning for giving them limited access or requesting a background check before revealing customer information to them.
2. Using outdated systems
The single easiest way for a hacker to get into a system is to slip in through a hole in your security. The way holes get there is when you use outdated software. Once one computer falls, the rest go like dominoes.
That means keeping Windows, Office, your browser and other daily drivers updated with the latest security fixes. Tap or click for a few critical steps to take before updating a Windows PC.
It goes without saying — but we’re going to say it anyway. If you’re using computers with Windows 8, stop right away. It has too many security holes to be safe in a business environment. Now is the time to upgrade to Windows 10.
Can’t afford new versions of Office? Try this free Office alternative that works just like Microsoft’s software.
Be sure to designate yourself or someone else in your company to stay on top of security updates, monitor for email spam and any other number of threats to your company.
3. Making unsecured backups
Backups are a critical part of any business. If you aren’t backing up your company records, then drop everything and do it now. You’re one hard drive crash away from losing time, revenue and possibly your entire company.
Don’t just run out and buy some external hard drives. You need an offsite solution that is both time-tested and trustworthy if you want true peace of mind. While many companies offer cloud-based data backup, you need the trust that can only come with an established name.
Kim’s pick is IDrive, a sponsor of The Kim Komando Show. IDrive backs up Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android gadgets all to one account. For just a few dollars a month, you can rest easy knowing all your photos, videos, documents and files are safe.
With Kim’s link, you can save 50% on 5 TB of cloud backup. That’s less than $35 for the first year!
Another advantage a remote system has over on-site backup is the theft angle. Any thief or sketchy employee can walk off with your external drive backup. Even if your computer is password-protected, your backup probably isn’t. The thief can have full access to your files in seconds. Don’t let them!