Many of us now run an online business. It’s no longer just larger companies that have an online presence. Small and medium-sized enterprises focus a lot of their time and money on their online strategies, and many new businesses start solely online, with no form of brick and mortar storefront. The growth of online business means that protecting yourself legally, financially and from cyber-crime is more important than ever. While a large company has lawyers and accountants to look after the financial and legal elements and can handle the costs of cyber-crime, smaller businesses can struggle.
If a small company failed to get the right protection and found themselves at the mercy of a cyber-attack, or a lawsuit from a disgruntled customer, they could quickly find the associated costs, not to mention the hit to their reputation, too much to bare. In those all-important early years, this could finish your business before it even has a chance to grow.
Manage Customer Data
If your website takes any information from customers, you must protect it. For some information, such as their email addresses, this can just be a case of not passing their details onto any third parties and ensuring your website is protected. If you take bank information and other sensitive details, you may need further protection.
The first step for any business today should be getting an SSL certificate for your website. Speak to your web host about this if you haven’t already. This will ensure information is encrypted end to end and show your customers that your site is safe and one that they can trust.
You should also ensure your business computer network uses a firewall, with a secure password, that you shut everything down when you leave the office and that you test your systems regularly. It’s also a good idea to think about how you take payments. Modern methods such as PayPal, Apple pay and Android pay are very safe.
Protect from Fraud
Fraud is another huge problem now so much business is online, and criminals can see smaller companies as an easy target. As well as ensuring your customers are real with security plugins, avoid falling victim to fraud by using face matching technology in your offices, on your website, and on your app.
Manage Your Passwords
Easy to crack passwords make a hacker’s job considerably easier. Many of us still use the same password for near enough everything, use a word with meaning to us, or simply change the numbers on the end. When it comes to your business security systems, you can’t afford to do this. You might as well just give hackers and fraudsters the keys to your front door or pin number for your bank account.
That said, with all of the passwords and account numbers we have to remember nowadays, it can be impossible. So, don’t try. Use password managing software to help you.
Keep on Top of Your Accounts
It’s not just hacking and fraud you need to protect your business from. There’s also your own mistakes. Making errors with your accounts for missing the deadline for your tax return can be exceptionally costly.
As soon as your business starts to make money, you need to have an effective and simple accounting system in place. Record your income and outgoings carefully, being sure to save or keep any receipts and invoices. Then, take some time at the end of each week to do your accounting. This way, you’ll always know exactly what you’ve earned and won’t have any issues with cash flow, or face any expensive fines from the tax office at the end of the year.
Have a Security Policy
If you have employees, it’s crucial that your business has a clear and concise security policy and that all members of your team know it off by heart. They should fully understand the security systems you have in place and be aware of their own responsibilities when it comes to protecting your business and your customer’s information.
Remember this won’t just be a case of training new staff. You’ll also have to update existing team members on any changes over the course of their employment.
Updates and patches are made available for software, apps and plugins all of the time. Yet, many of us ignore them, not wanting to waste time with a tiny update. This is foolish. Failure to install updates can leave you wide open to cyber attack, so make sure you do it.
This might sound obvious, but you don’t just need to protect online. Lock your office doors at night, install security cameras and high-quality locks and if you take your laptop home, make sure it stays with you at all times.
Mistakes with security could cost your business a fortune and lose you customers. So, take the time to get it right. Both on and offline.