In the small business world, the Internet can be a tremendous resource and a risky tool to use at the same time. Because of this, small business specialist Bert Seither recommends the following tips to protect your business online:
1) Use antivirus and antimalware software
Individuals use software to protect against viruses, malware, and spyware all the time. This is why there is no reason small business owners should not be doing the same thing – and perhaps paying even more attention to these tools. Computers loaded with confidential information such as financial records, receipts, and customer information are prime targets for potential hackers. A person behind a virus or spyware could potentially gain access to this information through the Internet, which could be devastating for a business. Many programs are free or reasonably priced. They can also be tax deductible if used for business purposes. Be sure to keep this software up-to-date.
2) Avoid using wi-fi Internet access for certain business purposes when possible
While wireless Internet access is so readily available and convenient, the chances of someone gaining access to your files over wi-fi is normally much greater than if you’re on a hard-wired Internet connection that goes right into the wall. This is particularly important to know about with regard to publicly-transmitted wi-fi signals or those found in apartment or office complexes. That’s why it can be a whole lot safer to use a traditional Internet connection, Bert Seither says. If you have your own wi-fi signal, it’s vital to have it encrypted using proper security measures.
3) Avoid using your smartphone or tablet to conduct certain business-related tasks
Evidence has shown that smartphones like iPhones and Androids or tablets like iPads can be more prone to potential problems from outsiders. This is because their operating systems and software are designed differently from regular computers that can fight off viruses or spyware a little more easily. In addition, these mobile devices are smaller and therefore could be stolen with much more ease compared to a computer that’s larger and heavier. While these devices are so handy, consider handling more of your private business tasks on a computer.
4) Protect your hardware
According to Bert Seither, one of the most important tips that small business owners may forget about at times is to protect their actual business-related hardware. This means ensuring your phones, computers, tablets, and other electronic devices are safe. It may seem crazy, but someone could hypothetically steal your work computer, post all kinds of confidential data online, and essentially tarnish your reputation and your business for good. Keep these items password-protected and locked up when possible.
5) Use reputable online services
If you have a website for your business, be sure it’s set up through a reputable hosting service. The same goes for online banking, bookkeeping, payroll, and tax prep services. As mentioned earlier, ensure your passwords are unique enough for all of these services, and consider using them on a desktop or laptop rather than on other web-enabled devices. Plus, protecting your online reputation can be important as well. Angry customers who post nasty reviews about your business that rank high in search engines can be a major turnoff to potential shoppers. Consider using reputation management services and other online tools for added protection.