In the early days of the internet, only the biggest corporations would go online and meet any sort of success. Since those early days, it has become easy for every type of company, and even individuals, to go online and run a profitable business.
Protect Your Small Business with Practical Online Security Tips
An issue that is continuing to emerge due to all of these smaller companies coming online is the fact that while large companies will have a decent IT and online security team, smaller ones can not afford it. Although, to be honest, not even some of the biggest seem capable of protecting themselves effectively.
With the online security breach disasters in the link above, what chance will small businesses have in the free-for-all online world? Plenty, it just takes a few pieces of common sense, and a useful tool or two.
1: Allow specialist 3rd parties to handle your information
Most companies will have a specialized third party that they work with to handle the credit card, email addresses, transaction history, and other data of their customers for them. Storing all of this data again yourself is a needless risk, leave it to the professionals and lessen the number of places which a hacker will have access to.
If there is information that you do need to have on your own, back it up in an offsite location, and donât connect this device to the internet. Take a look at the next point for even better protection when you do this.
2: Encrypt all of the data you store
In relation to the point above, you will be storing data such as this on the following devices. This works for devices which are either online or offline:
- USB/thumb drive
- SD card
- Portable hard disk
If I didnât list it, but you store digital data on it – encrypt it! Your customers deserve this basic protection, and you can give it to them. The reason why you’ll want to do this is so that the simplest hack of all – stealing a physical computer or drive, results in nothing for the thief as they canât decrypt your drive.
If you’re looking for something else, something that can handle your mobile devices as well, for example, look through this list of encryption programs to find the one that supports all of your devices.
3: Use a VPN for communications
The first VPNs were used by large corporations who wanted to transmit data, and have conversations with their partners and remote employees, in a secure manner. This technology is now available with anyone who has around $3 – $10/month available.
VPNs increase your online security by encrypting your data inside a packet. This packet is then sent securely through a tunnel in the public internet infrastructure. Hackers who attempt to steal the information in this packet of information will be treated to a big jumbled mess of characters which they will never be able to read.
Take a look down at my author bio, and follow the link to see our top rated VPN services, or to learn more in general.
4: Use a password management tool
If can remember your password, it isnât strong enough. Also, if your password is ‘password,’ ‘secret,’ or your name…go, right now, and change that!
Password managers are tools which create a password for you that is made of random characters. The best ones will store the password for you securely, and then enter it on login pages for you when you visit them.
Strong encryption is the key to any password generator. Check out this list from C|Net on their top six password managers: PasswordBox, Keeper, 1Password, Roboform, MSecure, and Dashlane.
5: Always choose two-step authentication
The goal of two-step authentication is to connect something you know (your password is the obvious thing), to something you own (your smartphone is used the most often) in order to weed out malicious login attempts.
What will happen is you will log in with services that use this as you normally do. Then another screen will come up asking you for the code that has been sent to your smartphone. You enter that code and you’re good to go. Services which use this, that small businesses may find useful, include:
- Yahoo! Mail
Two step authentication is free to use. Take advantage of it and secure the online data of your business that little bit extra.
Online security for small business is easier than you think
If you can’t hire a big IT team, donât worry – you can still protect your customers! Points 1, 4, and 5 will cost you no additional money. Point 2 will cost you the amount of the device and encryption program that you use. A VPN will set you back anywhere from as little as $3, to up to $10 per month.
Following any one of these will protect your customers, your business, and yourself. Each one you add is another step towards not needing an expensive IT team.