Courtesy of Cindy Bates, Vice President, Microsoft U.S. SMB group
As a small business owner, you’re likely to invest in the latest security systems to protect your home and office locations. You install motion sensors and use cameras to keep a watchful eye on your business, but the next step of protecting your data often goes overlooked. With data breaches on the rise, it’s increasingly important to take action to protect yourself, your customers and your business. In the below post, Mike Barton, president of Allstate Business Insurance, offers practical tips you can implement today to help keep your business safe in the digital era. Want to learn even more ways you can protect your business? Register now for the Protecting Your Business Against Online Fraud webinar on Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 11 a.m. PST.
When you hear of another large retailer that’s been hit with a data breach, it’s easy to assume that data thieves only target big businesses. Unfortunately, the latest data breach report from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) lists a number of small and medium-sized businesses that have been hit, too.
The start of a new year is a crucial time to make sure you have safeguards in place to help protect your company against data theft. Here are six tips:
Train workers well. Establish basic cyber-security practices, and make sure employees are well-versed in handling sensitive customer and corporate information, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says. The agency suggests that your plan include training in avoiding phishing and malware attacks; the plan should also require employees to change email and other passwords regularly.
Keep computers updated. Yes, it’s time-consuming (and sometimes costly) to continually upgrade operating systems and software. But up-to-date programs are a simple way to help prevent viruses and online breaches, according to the FCC. The SANS Institute, a research and education organization focused on information security, outlines 20 common Internet security challenges – and plans of attack to fix them.
Safeguard your company’s Wi-Fi. To make it tougher for criminals to get inside your company, the FCC suggests hiding your Wi-Fi network’s Service Set Identifier (SSID) so your network name isn’t publicly visible. Be sure to password-protect your router, and update the password regularly.
Secure mobile devices. If you or your employees work on laptops, tablets or cell phones outside the office, the FCC encourages you to password-protect them, encrypt sensitive data, and install security apps to help prevent data breaches while away from your company’s network. You may even want to establish a virtual private network (VPN) that employees can access instead of connecting to public Wi-Fi.
Consider data compromise insurance coverage. This coverage can give you peace of mind if your business’s client, vendor, or employee data files (or financial information) are stolen or damaged. This increasingly popular type of policy could help cover the costs of informing victims about a data breach at your company, providing them with credit-monitoring services, rebuilding your data files and more. An experienced business insurance agent can help you decide whether this policy is right for your company.
- Secure Your Mobile Data – and Help Protect Your Business
- Tips on Moving Your Small Business Safely Into ‘The Cloud’
Mike Barton is the president of Allstate Business Insurance. He was named to Business Insurance’s list of “Power Brokers” and is a nationally recognized speaker on subjects ranging from reforming health care in America to business strategies for improving health, engagement and productivity.