Starting their own business venture is a dream come true for budding entrepreneurs and running it successfully is one of the most rewarding and satisfying feelings. It also, however, brings with it a mountain of responsibilities, which are not just related to customer satisfaction and revenue generation, but protecting the company as well as the resources that make the company what it is. As your business grows, it will become more and more difficult for you to personally track each and every business operation and employee activity. Have you ever wondered how you would know what goes on in the premises of your company when you’re not around to oversee it? I bet there have been times you’ve pondered over whether your business and its sensitive information are as secure as they should be. Many a time, the small things that we overlook, like leaving our desk with the computer’s monitor on, or forgetting a crucial document in the printer, can inadvertently cause information security breaches. Mentioned ahead are a few ways of securing your business information. #1. Identify Sensitive Information All companies have information that is sensitive or confidential and vulnerable to misuse by competitors and/or third parties. This is the kind of information that can hurt your reputation and margins, if it falls into wrong hands. It is important to identify this critical data in order to pinpoint what exactly needs to be protected. It could be in the form of paper, CDs, software, audio, or visual data. Take the time to figure out what you want to share with your partners and stakeholders and what you need to conceal for the benefit of your business. Make sure you take enough protective measures to protect sensitive data such as your customer database, employee records, financial records, passwords, and bank account details. #2. Control Access to the Data Once you’ve figured out which information needs protection and where it is stored, you will have to take the next step, i.e. know who, apart from you, has access to it. Limiting the access prevents disclosure of private information, intentionally or unintentionally. You need to make sure that you don’t hand over the complete right of access to this data to anyone, including your IT team. Install software that allows you to track who is accessing which data and how they are using it. #3. Keep an Eye on ‘Visitors’ Make sure you keep tabs on who is visiting your office premises by installing surveillance systems at strategic points. If you see an unfamiliar face, or suspicious movement or activity, take immediate steps to identify who the person in question is and what he/she is up to. Investing in a high quality surveillance system will amp up your security measures and let you keep an eye on the daily activities of your employees and outsiders. You can record everything and view it as and when you please, multiple times. #4. Don’t Forget about Mobiles In the age of smartphones and tablets, you cannot afford to overlook mobile security. A lot of employees use their personal phones to do their official work, thereby operating in open, unsecured networks. This implies that they’re working without the protection of your network security, which exposes their phones/tabs to attack and/or data loss. To counter this, you might want to consider setting up policies about secure mobile technology, and working with secure apps. #5. Use Strong Passwords and Encrypt Your Data Many of us make the mistake of setting easy passwords so that they are easy to remember. Such passwords, however, are also easy to hack. Using complex passwords involving the use of alpha-numeric characters and symbols make it difficult for hackers to crack them. It is, therefore, recommended that you set complicated passwords. Avoid writing them down and memorize them instead. Apart from that, make it a point to encrypt your data before saving it to your hard drive, as it is a great way of securing it. Even if you lose your hard drive, or if it gets stolen, the thief will not be able to read the data, if it is encrypted. #6. Do Not Open Random Links Be wary of suspicious emails and random links posted to your social media account and do not click on them. These might be ploys to lure you into something that may eventually turn out to be a gateway for virus and hackers to attack your systems. Mark them as spam/junk mail and delete them. #7. Secure Physical Documents Okay, so you have a paperless office and most of your work is digital in nature, but surely, you must have some important records in paper! These could be anything that contains your credit card and bank account details, or even personal information. Do not leave out paper records and make sure they are properly stored and disposed of. Instead of crumpling and tossing them into your dustbin, shred them before disposing them. Refrain from taking prints as much as possible, unless it is absolutely essential. #8. Upgrade Your Cyber Security The cyber world is a playground for mischief-mongers (read: hackers). Make sure you stay updated with the latest cyber protection to keep your systems safe from attacks by destructive elements. If your office uses wireless networks, make sure to amply secure them. If left unsecured, the networks become susceptible to penetration and hacking, which leaves them prone to attacks. Defend your wireless network with a complex password, and use a WPA2 encryption rather than WEP, for best results. #9. Your Staff Plays a Role Too Let your staff know that they’re responsible for the security of the company’s assets and information as well. Vigilant staff and associates can ensure that human error leading to data security breaches is minimized. Conclusion Safeguarding confidential information will require you to do more than just setting rules, policies, and locking your doors. It will require alertness, and the ability to identify and eliminate potential risks and threats. The above tips should help you stay on your toes and keep your business secure. Images: ”Security concept: Lock on digital screen/ Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. 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