The following is a guest post by Tiffany Rowe. Tiffany is a Marketing Administrator at Seek Visibility, where she assists clients in contributing resourceful content throughout the web.
When you’re running a new business, there are dozens of tasks to think about every day, from product or service development and marketing and sales, through to customer service, admin, HR and more. However, in this digital day and age when so much important information is transacted and stored online, it’s vital that entrepreneurs take steps to secure their businesses from cybercriminals.
This is especially the case for startups, which could end up having to shut down if the costs of being hacked are too high. To ensure you don’t have your startup’s identity or financial information stolen, read on for some key steps you can take today.
Secure Your Data
To begin with, you need to follow some important strategies to secure your organization’s data. You must look at ways to construct endpoint security that protects your corporate network both on-site and via remote devices such as laptops, cell phones, tablets, and Wi-Fi routers.
For example, make sure you have quality security software installed on all the devices used by your business. This includes all computers and other devices which store sensitive information such as the personal or financial details of your clients; your bank account details; usernames and passwords, and so on. Buy a professional product that provides protection against multiple types of threats, such as ransomware, spyware, malware, spam, and viruses. It also pays to make sure you have activated firewalls on your internet-enabled devices, as these act as another line of defense.
Another good way to protect data is to utilize comprehensive passwords on devices and website account logins which hackers won’t be able to guess. Effective codes are not related to any information that people can find online (like birth dates or anniversaries, addresses, emails, taglines, names of your family members or pets); and they’re at least eight characters in length. Furthermore, your passwords should always be made up of a mixture of characters, with some letters (upper case and lower case), numbers, and symbols.
You will keep your business information safer if you also regularly update passwords, security software, apps, firewalls, browsers, operating systems, and plug-ins, for each of the devices and accounts you use. Make sure your employees are given strict security guidelines to follow here too.
Plus, don’t forget to keep physical documents protected in the workplace. Shred paperwork that has sensitive information on it, such as customer details, credit card or bank account numbers, login codes, and more. It pays to keep your mailbox locked too, so that no one can get access to your deliveries and locate information that way.
Educate Yourself on Common Scams
Next, you’ll avoid a lot of costs, time wastage and stress if you stay up to date on the common scams used by hackers to gain access to business data and identities, and teach your team members what to look out for too. For example, keep in mind that many hackers send emails or text messages, or make phone calls, pretending to represent a genuine organization, such as bank, government department, or phone or internet company. They get in touch with businesses saying that certain details need to be verified, or that an error needs to be correct.
People who think they’re in contact with a real worker may hand over sensitive information such as email addresses, driver’s license numbers, bank account details, credit card numbers, and other data, which is then used for nefarious purposes.
Similarly, often emails or texts also contain links which, when unsuspecting people click on them, infect their systems with malicious code. This code can then allow hackers to gain access to computer systems and networks, and see the keystrokes entered when people type. To avoid having this happen, always verify you’re speaking with real company representatives, and don’t open attachments from people you don’t know or click on links from suspicious messages.
Keep a Close Eye on Bank Account and Credit Card Statements
Lastly, it’s also wise to take steps to limit the damage hackers can cause if they do happen to break into your systems. One way to go about this is to keep a close eye on your firm’s bank account and credit card transactions. By checking these details often, you’ll be able to pick up fraudulent transactions straight away, and have cards cancelled or take other steps to halt cybercriminals in their tracks. If you don’t think you have the time for this, consider using a credit monitoring app or other type of outsourced service which will alert you to red flags ASAP.