How to Ensure Better Online Privacy and Security for Small Businesses

Online privacy
Online privacy. Picture by Josh Edgoose on Unsplash.

Online privacy and security is important for more than just individuals. Companies are often targets, and many of them are putting themselves at unnecessary risk without realizing it. Cybercrime is not slowing down, and people are at a huge risk today when they have their data online. This is true for those who are posting information on social media, and for companies that have customer data tucked away in what they believe to be secure servers.

 

There are real dangers out there, and you need to find some ways that you can provide your small business with some added protection. One of the first things that you will want to do is make sure that you understand what some of the biggest causes of security breaches are today.

  • Disclosure by mistake
  • Malware and hacking
  • Troublesome employees
  • Lost or stolen computers and devices

Disclosure by mistake happens quickly and without intention, but it can still be quite a big problem. For example, someone who works for your business might post some information that they should not have on a social media account by mistake. They might have posted customer information in an email, a letter, or another location where it should not have been, as well.

Hacking and malware are extremely problematic, as well. Cybercriminals are always coming up with new ways that they can get access to computers and servers, to steal passwords and information, and to add malware to systems to cause damage and steal more data.

Having employees that are disgruntled and unhappy can cause security breaches, which puts the customer and even the employee privacy at risk, as well. While they tend to be rare, there is always the chance that a bad actor who is looking to steal information or leak information intentionally exists.

Some companies who have employees who are working through their mobile devices, such as laptops or phones, flash drives, or who are working at home, have run into issues, as well. If those devices are lost or stolen, it can cause some serious problems. If the person who finds the device is able to get into it, and it has sensitive information, you have to hope that they do not have bad intentions.

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A white surveillance camera casts a shadow on a blank white wall

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons that security can be breached at a company. The goal is to make sure that you are aware of these types of problems that are more common than you might realize for businesses, so you do not have the same types of issues. The following are some tips that you can use to help.

How Can You Make a Difference and Improve Your Protection and Online Privacy?

One of the first and most important things to do is to consider the information that is considered sensitive at your company. This includes looking at the types of customer data that you have, what you are using it for and where you are keeping it. This includes all of the locations where that data might reside.

For example, customer information might exist on the server, but there is a chance that some of the data could also exist on a laptop that an employee uses at the company. Know where all of the data resides, and make sure that it needs to be in those locations. If not, then you are going to want to remove it from those locations where it should not be. Ideally, you are going to make sure that all of the sensitive data that you have stored is as isolated as possible. It should be on as few computers or devices as possible. When you have fewer copies, it is going to be easier to keep safe.

Additionally, all of the sensitive data that you have is going to need to be encrypted. This is important when you have your data located on servers and PCs, but it is even more important when you have data that is mobile. If you are able to encrypt your data, it is going to provide you with a nice bit of protection. It often means that even if someone were to breach the system and get access to the data, they will not be able to get through the encryption.

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SSL, or secure sockets layer, is another good option. You will want to use this when sending and receiving sensitive financial data, such as credit card information. This is a quality form of encryption that helps to protect this data when it makes its way across the Internet.

 

Cyberworld
Cyberworld. Picture by Salty Justice on Unsplash.

Another way that you can improve online privacy and protection that many people do not consider is when they are hiring new employees. It is a good idea to have thorough background checks and to have multiple references for the employees. Learn about the people you are bringing into your company. Remember, one of the ways that data breaches can occur is through employee negligence and employees who are actively looking to hurt the company.

 

Train the employees on what they need to do in order to ensure a safer and more private online environment at work. Having a good privacy policy in place and training the employees that it is important to protect sensitive data should be an important part of onboarding, ongoing training, and the overall company culture.

Some of the other ways to improve your security is to have a quality firewall setup at the company, have antivirus and antispyware software running on the devices, and make sure to keep it up to date. Enforce strong passwords, along with regular changes to the passwords, and make sure any work devices, whether they are phones or laptops, are cared for properly and that they can be tracked in the event that they are lost.

The cyber world and the real world can be dangerous places. Take the needed precautions to make sure your customer data and employee information are safe and implement the advice above.

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