Small Businesses and Online Security
by Megan Totka
Many of us take for granted that the information we enter online is safe. Small businesses use lots of different services to make their business successful and keep it running smoothly. Some applications, sites, and programs like Microsoft Office, Google applications, Facebook, Twitter, and other email services are naming just a few.
With your information spread so far and wide, it’s really important to keep a close watch on the sites that you use frequently. It’s particularly critical to keep the information belonging to your customers safe. While small businesses may not always be the target of hacking, scams, or phishing, it is still absolutely possible to fall victim.
Here are a few things that you can do to keep your business information confidential online:
- Set a great password – most sites now offer the ability to use any and all characters when it comes to creating your password. Set the most unique password you can while still being able to remember it. Also, be sure to use different passwords for different services that you use. Often, people are guilty of using the same password for every single service. This is dangerous because if someone gains access to one of your passwords, they’ve gained access to all of them.
- Try to use services that utilize two factor authentication – this is a relatively new process that is used by some services such as Google (if you enable it) and PayPal. Two-factor authentication is a process where in addition to using a password, you also have to answer another question or enter a number that is emailed or texted to the user. This way, even if someone gains access to your password, they shouldn’t be able to get into your accounts.
- Consider scrambling some information – you know how sometimes a site makes you set up security questions in addition to your password (in case you have to reset it)? Answering these questions honestly may seem like the easiest thing to do, but think about how easily accessible some of that information might be on the web. For example, the security question “what city were you born in” could be easily answered by just about anyone with a quick Google search of your name. Instead, choose a word or phrase that is a nonsensical answer. So for the preceding question, answer something like “cupcake” or “airplane.”
- Back everything up – if for some reason your accounts or information are hacked or physically stolen, it’s critical to have everything backed up. You can even back up your information in several places. Some good ways to back things up include utilizing cloud storage, or purchasing an external hard drive. Losing the information about your business or customers could potentially be detrimental to you company.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.