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Starting out as a small business owner, you have so many different concerns to juggle – have you got the product mix right? How best will you market yourself? Is your website up to scratch? Where will you find further rounds of funding?
But the security of your operation should be a primary consideration. Don’t wait until something bad happens to make sure you have the best plan. The Federation of Small Businesses estimates that a third of small businesses fall victim to online crime.
The effects of crime on small enterprises are felt much more keenly – there’s financial loss, disturbance to your business but also the impact on your company’s reputation to factor in. And yet small businesses are the most likely to cut corners on security measures in those cash flow lean start-up days.
But what exactly are the risks, and more importantly, how best do you protect yourself?
Beef Up Your Physical Measures
When we think good data security, we immediately think of encrypted systems and cloud storage. But physical asset security intersects online security, and must be considered as part of the plan.
There are simple measures you can take to reduce risk – make sure all doors and windows are locked when unoccupied, fit an alarm system or a surveillance system with remote monitoring, and require everyone to have an automatic password time-out on laptops when they’re away from their desks. Also ensure that all sensitive paperwork is shredded regularly, and keep files in locked cabinets. This will all help to reduce opportunist theft.
No matter how small your company, it’s a good idea to a have a formal IT security policy that can be signed up to by any contractors or staff. Your data resources are one of the most valuable assets you have, so protecting them and, more importantly, knowing what you would do in the event of a breach, is hugely important.
Far from being a policy to gather dust on a shelf, your IT security strategy should be dynamic and responsive to shifting requirements and systems. Setting out a crisis option ahead of time, when you are thinking straight, is the best idea, and there are lots of sample IT security policy documents out there that you can base your own on.
Keep Software Updated
Tempting as it can be to cut corners on endless patches and updates for the software you use, this can be a costly mistake. Keeping your anti-virus software up-to-the-minute is absolutely non-negotiable, and although systems updates are disruptive, without them, you leave your company open to hackers.
Use The Cloud
Using cloud storage and software solutions is often the smartest move for a small business. Not only does it enable you to access your data and work from any device, but if you find the right Cloud Service Provider, all the updates for security issues are taken care of automatically. Combining cloud storage with encryption measures and single sign-on tools can often provide a more secure approach than just choosing one of those options.