Keeping your business secure is important – whether it's an online business, a bricks and mortar business or a little of both – and there are so many things to consider. This article will focus on how to keep your business secure online.
Practice Smart Email Management
It's tempting to use free email accounts like Gmail.com or Yahoo.com to manage your email but you really should upgrade to Google For Business, or upgrade your Yahoo.com to Yahoo Small Business so that you can get a secure email along with an @yourdomain.com email address.
If you want to be sure that you stay secure, you can also use something like Office 365 and Outlook. If you process a lot of data such as medical information and need to be HIPPA compliant, you should look for something like ZixMail.com.
Use Secure Project Management Systems
Using a project management system instead of email to handle all the work that you do with your team and clients, is actually more secure because there is less of a chance for strangers to hack into it and get your information.
People are not that careful with their email addresses and often leave their computers and laptops on so that any stranger can get into their email. With a project management system that requires sign-ins and verification of new devices, you'll keep your data safer. Plus, you can lock someone out when you need to.
Choose Appropriate and Reliable Website Hosting
The cheapest webhosting is not the best choice for most online business owners. If you're just starting with a small blog you're fine using shared hosting, but if you are doing a substantial amount of transactions it's time to consider using a different type of plan.
You do need to understand something about what you need in order to choose wisely. If you're not sure about the terminology, talk to someone more experienced with your needs. If you need a virtual private server (VPS), or your own dedicated machine, you'll need to find out from a professional.
Keep Your Website Updated
One of the biggest reasons why people end up with hacked sites has to do with the lack of updating. If you use any type of website builder from Dreamweaver, to WordPress, to Drupal, it's important that you understand that updates happen and need to happen on a regular basis.
With WordPress and Drupal you are reminded, but if you had your site built in another way by a webmaster who did the code themselves, you'll need to find out from them about conducting regular updates for security purposes.
Use Backup and Repair Services
Even with the strongest security measures at work, sometimes things go wrong. It's imperative that you have a backup of the website, and the ability to repair the system when you need to. This can be accomplished with a service such as Mozy.com or Carbonite.com. These systems are off site so that if your business is blown down by a tornado, or slides off a mountain in a mudslide, you will still have the information.
Use Virus and Malware Scanning Software
Not only should every computer you use have virus scanning and malware scanning software, you should also have software installed on your websites as well to help protect them. If you have a WordPress site, you can find plenty of free and premium plug-ins to help you keep your website safe and secure. There are also services provided by WordPress Experts to help you keep things safe.
Consider Moving to the Cloud
A lot of people don't realize that using mostly cloud based technology is actually safer than native technology that lives on your computer. Consider if your phone or laptop is stolen that you can easily reset all passwords from the cloud on your backups, storage, and software that you use in your business – including project management, customer relationship management, design software, office programs and more.
Project management – http://www.basecamp.com/
Customer relationship management – http://www.infusionsoft.com/
Design software – https://creative.adobe.com/
Office programs – http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/
Obtain an EIN or Business Tax ID Number
Don't give out your social security number to anyone. Instead, get a free employer ID number. You do not have to hire people to have the number. The name is misleading. Other countries outside of the USA also have Tax ID numbers which can help protect your identity.
Also, get a business address to help protect you further. Many times you cannot use a box number, but there are services that enable you to get a business address without a box number, and without giving out your home address to the world.
Free employer ID number – http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-%28EIN%29-Online
Business address without a box number – http://www.mailboxforwarding.com/
Finally, go old school and be sure to have a lock for your filing cabinet if you keep any personal information in there at all. If you have information from contractors, it's particularly important to keep their information safe and secure and locked up either in a secure computer file or a locked file cabinet.