3 Ways To Help Your Business Stay Secure in 2014
By Angela Sanders Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 07:21 AM EST
The Congressional Budget Office paints a bleak picture of 2014's financial outlook, which is bad news for local businesses in more ways than one. Tough economic times mean people will be spending less and, according to experts, committing more crimes. Read on to learn how to beef up your business' security measures before the next crime waves hit.
1. Protect Your IT Infrastructure
Your IT infrastructure houses sensitive data about your company, your finances, and your employees, so it's vital to protect it. Firewalls, anti-virus software, data encryption, and malware and spyware detectors can all help keep your data safe.
Creating a password policy can also make your data more secure. Complex passwords, which are a minimum of eight characters and contain a mix of numerals and uppercase and lowercase letters, are the most effective. Passwords should also be changed regularly to stay effective, so set up your system to prompt such changes at least every three months.
It's also crucial to regularly back-up your data, as this will minimize the impact of any cyber-attack. Ninety-four percent of companies that suffer a major loss of data don’t survive. Forty-three percent never reopen, while 51 percent fold within two years.
Once your system is secure, it's important to make sure your employees keep it that way. Sixty percent of employees disable security features on company devices. The rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workplaces also increases the risks to IT infrastructure if not properly managed correctly. Almost 40 percent of employees don’t password protect their personal devices and more than half use unsecured WiFi networks. Optimal Networks suggests several areas companies should address in an effective BYOD policy. Educating your workers on the importance of security measures, and monitoring their compliance, can help keep your business' IT infrastructure safe.
2. Secure Your Premises
With cybercrime making headlines, it's easy to forget about more traditional theft. However, more than 5,400 burglaries occur in America each day. More than a quarter of these occur on professional premises. Offices and commercial buildings are particularly vulnerable at night, once workers have gone home.
Installing a security system can help you keep eyes on your business after quitting time. Thieves are less likely to target premises protected by security systems, and more likely to be caught if they do. A security system can also help you reduce employee theft.
Home-based businesses can get a comprehensive security system and save money with this ADT offer from Securitychoice.net. Most insurance companies also reward businesses with security systems with 15 to 20 percent discounts on their premiums.
3. Protect Your Business Finances
A company's employees may be regarded as its greatest asset, but its finances aren't too far behind. There are several things you can do to protect them, starting with setting up separate business bank accounts and credit cards. This will keep your personal finances safe if your business accounts are attacked, and vice versa. You'll also find it much easier to track your company spending and recognize any unauthorized transactions.
Separating your accounts also provides legal liability protection. If your business is unlucky enough to be sued, the courts can't touch your personal finances. This offers extra business protection, as you can help your company recover with your own assets.
Once you've established business accounts, carefully consider who accesses them. You might trust your employees, but studies show employee theft typically costs companies five percent of their revenue. Making company purchases for your employees or reimbursing their expenses, rather than handing over your plastic, can reduce the risks. Switching to online bill payments can also reduce the risk of fraud.
Using a dedicated computer for online banking is another way to reduce the chance of fraud. Ideally this computer should be used solely for banking, as other online activities such as emailing and using social media can make the machine vulnerable to attacks. Ensure you bank with a financial institution with a secure site, and avoid mobile banking wherever possible.
2014 is promising to be one of the worst years for business crime on record. But with the right security systems in place, your firm needn’t become a statistic.