Your data is one of your most valuable commodities. Your job is to protect it for the benefit of both your customers and your vendors. But, most small businesses are seriously lacking in the security department. They just don’t know how, or they just don’t take security seriously. Big mistake. Here’s how to protect your company’s data for the benefit of you and everyone that does business with you.
Use Reputable Tax Software
Make sure you know which software you’re using and what it’s backed by. Check the list of authorized e-filers on the IRS website. All it takes is a few clicks to find out if the tax software you’re using is legit. While most of the well-known names are obviously not frauds, some companies hitch a ride on the whole e-file thing by making their name sound similar to companies you may have hear before. When in doubt, stick with names you know and trust like Intuit and Tax Slayer or even Liberty Tax.
Don’t Fall For Phishing Scams
Scammers on the Internet have gotten smarter. It used to be that you were safe if you just didn’t open attachments in emails. Now, entire emails might be dangerous to read, websites might not be safe to visit, and surfing the web could pose a threat to your personal and business data.
Laughable grammar, really weird layouts, and promises of billions of dollars in prize or inheritance money were the norm. Now, criminals are posing as the IRS, banks, and other institutions that you trust. They’re asking for your personal data or for you to click through a link to your bank’s website. Once there, you enter your user name and password and BAM – your business bank account is theirs.
If you’re unsure about a particular email, close the email, delete it, then visit the site directly by typing in the address of the site that you’re asked to click on in the email. Contact the bank, for example, that the email is purporting to be to see if there really is a problem before you log in.
Secure Your Data Network
Before you fill out another form online, stop. Make sure your PC is up to the challenge of defeating a malware attack. Now is a good time to install and activate the latest anti-malware program, secure your network, and make sure there’s no unauthorized network shares or that an employee didn’t open a port in your firewall.
Don’t overlook your wireless network either. Many businesses don’t even set up a password on their Wi-Fi – this is an open invitation for anyone to basically just walk right into your business through the network.
Update Your Security Regularly
Make sure you’re downloading and updating your network regularly. You keep seeing the Microsoft updater down there in the right-hand corner, bugging you to click on it. You’ve ignored it for a while now. Click on it. Update your OS and antivirus.
Back Up Your Data
How many times have you heard this one? How many times have you actually done it? Back up your data already. You may be sick of hearing and reading it, but this is the easiest thing to do. Yet, an alarming number of business owners don’t have a systematic backup option. If your hard drive crashes, and it will, all of your data is gone. Then what?
Jeremy S has experienced it all in small business. He enjoys blogging about his insights and understandings for productive and profitable management of staff, money, and services.