It’s always something …and so long as you plan for that reality, you’re on the right path. This is as true in personal life as it is in business. Except in business, owners have the added consideration of impacting the livelihood of their employees and the needs of their customers. Even the smallest business has the potential for a wide-reaching effect — will yours be a positive contribution, or a negative one?
So you pregame, develop a plan and strive to maintain it — all in the name of success. Doesn’t being proactive feel good?
On the flip side, there is no escaping that issues are still bound to arise. That’s just a part of life and doing business. But it doesn’t negate the necessity of planning and preventative maintenance. Rather, it underscores the importance of such forethought.
Instead of speculating what issues might come your way, we recommend learning from others. Let’s take a look at some of the most damaging issues facing businesses and learn how you can help deflect them.
Get to know the competition
In business, you’re not just competing with other organizations in your industry, you’re competing with fraudsters bent on reaping whatever they can from you: business data, customer information, your own personal information — all of which translates into money in their pocket.
While you’re aligning with your industry to help stay apprised of trends and regulations specific to your business, be sure to also keep tabs on other forces influencing your ability to thrive. Criminals are most definitely keeping tabs on you. And, why not? Small businesses are a favored target on which to unleash identity crimes as they are less likely to have proper security measures in place. According to a 2015 Nationwide, 63 percent of small businesses have been victims of at least one type of cyber attack.
Open your eyes to weaknesses
There are just so many access points into your business information — your internal devices, employees’ personal devices, vendors and customers email. If an intruder finds a way in to just one of those doors, you could have a breach on your hands. Considering the ongoing pressure criminals apply, vulnerabilities are exposed regularly.
These vulnerabilities include:
- Phishing emails
These malicious lures continue to deluge businesses. The Anti-Phishing Working Group received 197,252 reports of phishing scams in Q4 of 2014 alone.
- Unencrypted devices or data
Are you among the 65 percent of SMBs, according to Trendmicro, not encrypting confidential business information? Encrypted information is little good to criminals if they do get a hold of it.
- Password practices
As the first line of defense for your system, passwords should be strong, long and unique. Yet, the average employee only has three different passwords and 56 percent of employees share them among personal and business applications (per a 2014 SailPoint survey).
- BYOD risks
Whether your business has a “Bring Your Own Device” policy or not, when employees do use their own devices at work, there are greater inherent risks of information compromise for the business.
Turn weaknesses into strengths
Being aware that your business is a target of identity crimes offers great motivation for instituting better controls. So take the bull by the horns and address each vulnerable area. (Really, when was the last time ignoring something in hopes it would go away actually improved a business situation?)
Educating yourself, your employees, your vendors and your customers, clarifies the role each audience plays in securing personal and business data. It also makes it clear how simple it can be to help protect such valuable information.
Here’s how to help close the door on compromise (and spread the word):
- Learn to spot a phishing email
- Encrypt all devices and stored data
- Create top notch passwords with these expert tips
- Develop a BYOD policy — even smartphones pose risks
- Update software when security patches are released
- Only connect via secure, password-protected Wi-Fi
- Stay up to date with the help of FightIdentityCrimes.com regarding breaches and scams —crimes that could affect you and your business too
As you get back to your business day, make sure that protecting against fraud and identity theft is a regular part of your business plan. Your employees and customers are relying you to have an effective business data protection plan — and so is your bottom line.