Written by: James Ponds
In our fast-paced age, keeping businesses safe feels like a formidable task. Not only do we have to deal with online threats that most workers have never even heard of, but the specter of old-fashioned dangers like office theft hang over the heads of business owners and workers alike. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps we can all take to shore up the defenses of our workplace. Here are five things you can do to help keep your place of business safe.
1. Keep Financial Transactions Secure
One of the most vulnerable areas of commerce these days lies in online financial transactions. Businesses are notoriously lax in security here despite the clear risk. Make sure to restrict use of a company credit card to business-related transactions only, even if you're the sole proprietor. As well, be certain that any transactions done online are from a computer which has fully updated antivirus software. A firewall is a good idea too; these monitor inbound and outbound web traffic so that illegitimate users don't prey on your personal information.
Something that banks are starting to do is offer the option of a secured credit card. Unlike a normal credit card, a secured card uses your own money as collateral. The money gets returned to you when you close your account. This is a way that people with bad credit or no credit can earn it, while banks minimize the risk of fraud or default.
2. Learn Safe Email Practices
Email is the way that most businesses communicate these days, so keeping your email skills honed is important. A common scam being run by cyber criminals is called "phishing." This happens when someone sends you a link to what appears to be a legitimate payment site in the hopes that you'll be fooled into entering sensitive information into a false page. It happens more than you'd think; a government report cited a loss of $1.7 billion from businesses in 2019 due to compromised email alone. Remind yourself and anyone you work with never to open emails from an address that you don't recognize and to always check the URL of any webpage you're being linked to against the address of the legitimate site that you know.
3. Backup Your Data
The loss of data isn't always caused by criminal acts. In fact, one of the leading causes of data loss is mechanical failure. This is often due to hard drive crashes from internal failures, but can also result from power surges and outages as well as simple human error. Make sure that every machine that you use for your business is attached to a surge protector, and regularly back up your saved data to the cloud or to a physical storage device. Theft only accounts for a few percent of data loss instances, but when it happens, it's devastating. Immediately reporting a data breach is the most important factor in whether or not the data is successfully recovered.
4. Remember Physical Security Threats
Often overlooked in the digital age is the importance of physical security. Keep every device used for business purposes under lock and key. It may be tempting to take your work computer out of the office, but resist the urge. If your company has enough capital, consider investing some in a security tech upgrade. Facial recognition and biometrics are becoming more affordable. At the very least, invest in a security camera system.
5. Hire Computer Security Professionals
Never feel ashamed to call in the professionals. Cyber crime is one area where it really pays to get expert support. Often, it takes a hacker to know a hacker. "Ethical hackers" are security professionals who know how to break into systems, but who use that ability to find security flaws and send up a red flag before someone gets attacked. Knowing your weaknesses is the first step to becoming stronger.
As threats to the safety of businesses grow, so do the solutions we can put into action to keep them safe. It has to be a collective effort, though. Make a culture of safety a priority at your workplace creates a better world for everyone.