Perhaps you’re traveling, and while your back is turned to take an important call, someone steals your laptop. Through no fault of your own, small businesses are vulnerable to theft in a variety of contexts, including cyber theft. For example, people could strategically attack your computer or network to steal your data. And don’t forget employee theft, which can include data as well as business materials.
To protect your company against theft and ensure business continuity in the event of a loss, follow these four steps.
- Clearly communicate expectations to employees, contractors and vendors: With employees, make sure you have clear policies on expense reimbursement and how business property may be used. Without issuing an ultimatum, explain that if someone is taking advantage of a policy, changes will be made for the good of the company. With contractors and vendors, make sure you choose reputable firms and conduct background checks. If a theft does occur, documentation can help you spot and resolve the situation earlier.
- Secure your data and networks: We all know we should have antivirus software and secure passwords, but what about maintaining those defenses? Most home networks, even with a password, can be hacked by someone with a moderate knack for technology. To stay on top of hacking trends, make sure that you’re doing your due diligence. If a theft does occur, your IT staff will be better able to pinpoint weaknesses and improve your defenses.
- Track business property with an up-to-date inventory: From desktop computers and servers to smaller devices like PDAs, smartphones and tablets, clearly record which employees have what equipment, and clarify which devices may be taken home and which must remain in the office. Schedule a recurring appointment for updating your inventory. In the event of a theft, these detailed records can help protect your data as well as assist the police and your insurance company.
- Back up your data and hardware: Cloud-based software and automatic data backup can help you recover more quickly from a theft. Today, especially with automatic cloud backup, you can quickly have all your data restored to another computer in the event of theft, loss or other damage. While tablets and smartphones can often provide access to your data via cloud services, laptops can be more efficient during a disruption.
Maintaining automatic backups and replacements for all of your hardware might be another line item in your budget, but it’s important to weigh the costs against the lost productivity. Even small businesses should consider having a spare laptop on hand. Depending on your processing needs, a suitable laptop could cost as little as a few hundred dollars.
While everyone hopes their equipment and data is perpetually safe, thefts do occur. These four steps should prevent disruptions, and help you get your business up and running again.
What are your best tips for preventing theft? How this ever happened to your business? How did you recover?