You probably have measures in place to protect the physical security of your business. Whether you operate out of a brick-and-mortar location or you run your small business from your home office, you at least have locks on the doors, and if you’re smart you have a security alarm system, as well. Depending on the type of business you do you may also have safety gates on doors and windows, surveillance cameras, or even a security guard on duty around the clock. The point is, you’ll do whatever is necessary to ensure that your workspace is protected. So why wouldn’t you do the same for your business information? Just because it exists in virtual space doesn’t mean it’s immune to very real attacks from unscrupulous hackers. And you need to be protected.
There are a couple of different areas you should address when it comes to security. First and foremost, you must protect yourself from outside threats, and there are several ways to do so. If you set up your computer system on your own (basically just bought a computer and started using it) you might not have installed a firewall. In truth, most modern computers come with a basic firewall built in. Although they probably aren’t beefy enough to stop a targeted attack on your system, they’ll suffice to keep out basic threats like automated bots sent out to seek open networks that are easy pickings. However, since you’re running a business you will likely want a little more protection.
At the very least you should shell out the dough for a comprehensive antivirus program that informs you when your system comes under attack from viruses, spyware, and malware that is designed to track your activities, steal your information, or otherwise harm your system. And if you keep sensitive customer information (names, addresses, credit cards, etc.) you should also look into encryption software and think about hiring a professional service to build a firewall that is more suited to protecting a business entity. And make sure that you have various levels of password protection in place (and change passwords frequently) to further discourage unauthorized entry.
Of course, most small business owners, while perfectly aware of outside threats, don’t realize the harm that can be done internally. This is not to say that your employees are going to steal information and sell it or intentionally and maliciously open your virtual doors to hackers (although that’s always a possibility). But they might accidentally let intruders in through their actions if they’re not careful. You might be able to stop damage to your computer equipment with screen protectors and a “no food at your workspace” policy, but if employees don’t understand how opening dangerous emails and visiting certain websites can harm your system you could be looking at some major problems from outside threats.
In order to combat this possibility you could put policies into place banning certain types of online activity in the workplace (or outright blocking some websites) and setting strict filters on email. But you may also want to educate your staff about common threats so that they learn to avoid them. As an additional security measure, consider giving each employee a dedicated password for the system (and changing them on a regular basis) so that you can track activity and keep everyone accountable for their actions.