Being at the head of a company is a demanding position. The buck stops with you, which means you’re responsible for the well-being of both your customers and your employees. Privacy is a major concern as nearly all businesses have online components either in their marketing or sales departments.
As a leader, there’s a lot you can do to safeguard both your personal information and the information of those beneath you. Understand how to utilize technology on the ends of software and hardware can go a long way to this end as can being able to recognize and prevent criminal activity, particularly scams.
If your company allows employees to use their own devices to access anything related to the company, you’ll want to start by helping them be safe.
Securing Personal Devices
Businesses are increasingly relying on a “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) policy where workers are allowed to use their own PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones to get the job done. This is doubly true for remote businesses where workers don’t meet in a physical office.
Unfortunately, that means companies have a considerably less controlled environment than in the days of more traditional business. It means that a single compromised employee device could lead to fallout for everyone involved: the company, its customers and its staff.
To avoid this, consider investing in security software that all employees can access freely. That means purchasing corporate anti-virus packages and ensuring every employee is setup with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Chances are you’ve heard of or already use anti-virus software, but you may not be familiar with VPNs.
They help maintain the line of security by securing the internet connection of any device with the service installed and in use. A VPN allows the client to connect to an encrypted server where their internet traffic is safely routed away from the dangers hackers and other cybercriminals present. It can also be used to keep remote employees in the same virtual IP area as other devices will recognize the VPN’s address rather than the user’s device. When used creatively, this can help prevent scams. Combining the two services (cybersecurity software and a VPN) is the most effective passive method of avoiding data theft.
Providing Education and Training
In any professional environment, it’s essential that members of your organization continue to learn new skills and perfect their education as time goes on. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a company is keeping up with the latest scams criminals are using to rob businesses of their customers’ data.
Companies such as Target are a good example of the major fallout that can occur when a data breach happens, but did you know such data breaches are often the result of user error? As we discussed above, employees frequently have access to company resources on devices other than those located in a central office. This is where scams can become a big problem.
When an employee is answering emails, reading the news or interacting on social media, scammers will frequently post enticing links, stories or other types of bait to lure their victims into downloading malware. Yet malware isn’t the only way criminals get their information.
Fake websites and links can convince even experienced internet users to hand over login information. Users that aren’t trained to be suspicious of and spot unusual activity can be caught off guard and cost your company greatly.
Teach your employees the value of strong passwords and of keeping their personal affairs as separate as possible from corporate affairs. Send out materials that show workers what fake emails and phishing websites look like. Dating may seem like a personal affair, but catfishing is another major scam that has been growing recently, and it can quickly boil over into something that negatively impacts your business.
The Consequences of Failure
Safeguarding your corporate accounts is obviously important, but exactly how important that is may not be so readily apparent. According to a recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, each instance of data loss can cost $150 per item. When you consider how many hundreds, if not thousands of customers your business is likely to deal with, the costs can become unmanageable very quickly.
Beyond the financial disaster that may very well send a company bottom up, the loss of public trust is enough to put both the business and its owners off the market in at least a semi-permanent way. Not only do customers lose faith in your business, but potential partners also lose faith in your management competency. The public might forget who was in charge, but other businesses will not when they look you up.
Whether your business is new or well established, you can’t take security seriously enough. As a final note, it pays to keep good records; keep backups (both hard and soft) of all company information, because if something ever does happen, you’ll be in considerably more trouble if you aren’t even able to account for what was stolen.