When it comes to starting up your business, one of the first things you have probably focussed on is building a website. However, many overlook the importance of proper online security.
Security measures for 2022 and beyond go far past what many consider the ‘necessary’ measures. The nature of how the online world has evolved in terms of information flowing freely across the globe has led criminals to continually find ways to take advantage of companies that have low-level security.
Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment says “Protecting your business from online threats is one of the fundamental areas of business you should focus on. Not only will you keep personal data safe, but customer data will be protected, avoiding negative PR as a result”.
Below, we share what we consider to be the key areas to keep your online business safe for 2022 and beyond.
1. Have strong, unique passwords
Business owners continue to undervalue the importance of a strong password, with many thinking “it won’t affect me as I am a small business”.
This is not the case however, arguably you are most at risk with less budget to go towards online security. Having a unique password for each service will ensure that if one password is obtained, the criminal cannot login to everything else.
In addition, making the password very difficult to guess and not something generic – like “password1” – will ensure your stored information is best protected. Consider updating your password on a rolling basis to keep access to others continually difficult.
2. Implement a resilient firewall
Many are unaware of what a firewall is and subsequently fail to implement one properly into their online business.
A firewall is essentially a virtual security guard, monitoring the traffic that coms to your website to ensure it is safe and it allowed to be here. The firewall detects an unauthorized user and blocks access to your site.
This is important to prevent unwanted and malicious users from not only gaining access to your site on a surface level, but also protects your own and user information when accessing the site. Opting for a high-level firewall will be one of the best things you can do to keep your online business secure.
3. Install antivirus software
As a business owner, your device (or any other device you use) will have a lot of important data related to the business stored.
Viruses continue to evolve in complexity, finding new ways of obtaining data from your devices. Often from malicious links disguised as something genuine, bad software or a bugged USB drive, many end up getting a virus and often are unaware they have one on their device until it is too late, and their data has been compromised.
You must ensure that any devices you use to access information related to the business have antivirus software. Using a reputable antivirus system will be hugely effective in preventing you from opening or accessing anything that may be harmful. Although sometimes the software prevents sometimes safe links or files, it is best to be on the side of caution when it comes to virus protection.
4. Update your software
Keeping your software up to date will not only improve performance but also helps to maintain device security.
As the software providers become aware of issues and other security holes in their software, patches and updates are introduced to ensure that users are protected going forwards. However, when software is not kept up to date, these issues remain open to hackers to gain access to your software and sometimes the rest of the data stores on the device.
Make sure to check that software is kept up to date regularly. This is particularly important for regularly used software or with sensitive information.
5. Physically secure your devices
You need to be taking reasonable steps to ensure that others do not have easy access to your devices.
Make sure to keep phones, laptops and other tablets that might have any information relating to the business in safe places when at the office or in other public areas. You best bet is to keep hold of them wherever you go so you are sure no one can gain access to them physically.
Phones are particularly vulnerable here and are perhaps the most east to access. Be sure to encrypt data on your devices and add suitable password protection on the off chance your phone is lost or stolen.
6. Be careful of BYOD
As a start-up, when bringing in your first employees you will be tempted to encourage employees to use their own devices to cut costs.
Whilst this is a great idea and you should consider doing this, you do have to be careful. With a device the employee uses both at work and at home, it increases the chances of business information being accessed maliciously.
Be sure to have a policy in place to ensure that data is best protected. Insist that their devices are protected using a firewall and antivirus and encourage employees to keep work and personal information separate as best possible.
7. Backup your data to the cloud
If your start-up is not yet using the cloud to store and save files, you need to start doing this. The cloud is considered one of the safest methods of securing information and is useful to back up your files in case you were lose or damage your files kept on a single device.
8. Consider outsourcing your security
Although this is not recommended from the offset, if your start-up is growing at a fast rate, it may be worth placing the company’s security into a managed security services provider.
Whomever you decide to go with will ensure that your company wide security is managed and kept up to date, taking the pressure off yourself in trying to manage the security yourself.
Following the above advice, we are confident that you will have your best chance at keeping important data secure. If something doesn’t seem or feel right, always aim to do the secure thing.
Review Top online security tips for start-ups.