Content Provided by Kabbage
If you’re a small business owner, you might consider yourself immune from break-ins or cyber attacks. After all, shouldn’t criminals be more interested in giant corporations and their much deeper pockets?
It would be great if this were the case, but unfortunately, statistics paint a different picture. Criminals actually target small businesses at an alarming rate both on- and off-line, and these companies are often the least equipped to cope with the financial and reputational losses that come along with data theft.
Luckily, an ounce of prevention is most definitely worth a pound of cure. The more you invest in securing your company (even if you don’t perceive yourself to be at risk), the less likely you are to be targeted by criminals. Outside of investing in a security system, the following strategies will help beef up security at your small business.
One of the simplest ways to limit the risk of data or equipment being stolen is to make it difficult to access said data or equipment. This can take several forms:
- Distribute as few keys as possible to employees and keep track of who has keys.
- Distribute even fewer keys to areas containing especially sensitive information or expensive equipment.
- Consider installing an access control system to more effectively limit access to certain areas of the building. For example, consider requiring that employees swipe a personalized key card in order to unlock a certain door.
- Make sure all keys are returned whenever employees leave the company.
- If you lose track of keys, invest in changing your locks.
Do a building check before and after work.
It might sound basic, but casing your building before and after work is a great way to develop a sense of what’s normal — and what’s not — and alert you to any potential issues as soon as possible (as an added bonus, this will also help you stay on top of facility repairs and maintenance). In addition to taking charge of this yourself, be sure to encourage your employees to report anything that seems suspicious or out of place.
Upgrade your doors, windows, and locks.
Reinforced steel or wood doors are most likely to stand up against an attempted break-in. High-security, commercial-grade locks are a must not only for all entrances and exits but also for any internal doors leading to areas where sensitive information or expensive equipment is stored. Finally, be sure to invest in locks for all windows (if you’re especially concerned about window break-ins, security bars provide an extra layer of protection). Just as important? Make sure these locks stay locked whenever the door or window in question isn’t in use.
Shred important documents before disposing of them.
Sensitive material is hardly safe in the trash — once it reaches a trash can or dumpster, there’s no telling who could access it. Minimize potential harms by shredding all sensitive documents such as invoices, printed communications, customer quotes and so on. Then dispose of them via recycling for an added layer of security.
A whopping 71 percent of cyber attacks are directed at small businesses, so it’s important to consider the digital aspects of your business’ security in addition to the physical. There are many layers to cybersecurity, but at a minimum, you should plan to do the following:
- Secure your wi-fi network and monitor your traffic to identify potentially nefarious intruders.
- Teach your employees what constitutes a strong password and require that they use strong passwords for any and all work devices and accounts.
- Make sure all company devices are up to date with the latest software, antivirus protections and firewall protections.
- Lock up company laptops at night instead of leaving them out on desks.
- Utilize encryption for the storage and transmission of all sensitive data.
- Limit the number of employees to which you grant admin access and delete all ex-employee user accounts.
- Create a security-minded data storage plan and onboard all of your employees to these protocols.
- Back up all of your data on a regular basis so you’re covered in case the worst happens and some of your data is stolen.
Develop a response plan.
If a break-in or other security breach occurs, nobody on your team is going to be thinking straight. Help people respond effectively by providing them with a response plan before anything nefarious ever happens and training them in the appropriate protocols. Even if your team never has to use this knowledge, it will empower and relieve employees to know there’s a plan in place.
By incorporating security into your small business today, you can help avoid both physical and cyber attacks moving forward. You’ll also provide yourself and your team members with greater peace of mind, and that alone makes your efforts well worth it.
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