It’s a fear every business owner has: a breach in security. Whenever you have something valuable, you risk losing it.
Whether it’s a break-in, a data hack, or employee theft, such threats cause businesses to lose time and money. More than that, these breaches can hurt customers and severely damage a company’s reputation.
If you’re wondering how to best protect your business, consider re-evaluating your on-site safeguards, cyber security, and how well you’ve prepared your staff.
In the digital age, when the term “security” comes up, most people focus on cyber attacks.
Cyber security is certainly relevant and important. But you shouldn’t neglect protecting the actual location of your business, along with whatever goods or information you store there.
A study that evaluated non-residential burglaries found that break-ins typically arise because of three factors. One was that someone was motivated enough to commit the crime. But the other two factors were that the locations made good targets and were not adequately protected. The study defined “burglary” as any type of breaking and entering, whether or not the offender stole anything.
It’s interesting that the report found that businesses tend to suffer greater losses than residences do. This is true despite the fact that criminals break into residences more often than commercial buildings. And while companies do report most burglaries to the authorities, the typical recovery rate for anything stolen is less than 10%.
Steps to Take
The Los Angeles Police Department recommends you carefully evaluate all aspects of your company’s security. These would include the potential for someone to break into your building, as well as to commit embezzlement or fraud. The department points out that “Crimes against businesses are usually crimes of opportunity. Failure to take good security precautions invites crime into a business.”
Many of the security measures you should take are simply common sense. Your building and parking lot should be well-lit. Make sure you store any cash and sensitive information in a secure, anchored, and fireproof safe. Your building should be easy to see into so that it’s obvious if anyone is breaking in or not. Install strong locks and burglar-resistant glass. You should also have a reliable security system.
Keep in mind that alarm systems are not for retail businesses alone. SimpliSafe, a prominent figure in the security solutions scene, notes that “whether you’re a boutique clothing spot, a small translation firm, a restaurant or a literary agent,” it is still important for you to protect the premises of your business.
Some companies, such as ones specializing in graphic design, own costly equipment. Many businesses have sensitive client information on-site. You might not keep cash on hand, but your property is still valuable.
It’s also wise if, as part of your alarm system, you have a camera for capturing video footage of break-ins. Video recordings are helpful for those monitoring your security. And the police will appreciate that footage because “they also have significantly higher probability to apprehend a suspect.”
The data showing how cyber attacks are impacting small businesses is unnerving. Small Business Trends reports that even though small businesses say they are exceedingly concerned about cyber security, only 14% believe they have strong measures in place for preventing cyber attacks. This is a problem because small businesses receive 43% of all cyber attacks, and 60% of SMBs close down six months after they receive such an attack.
To protect your business from hackers, make sure you install antivirus software and that you keep it up to date. Encrypt your internet connection and use a firewall. Make the connection as secure as possible by using a password and by concealing the name of your network. Also make sure that you’re using the safest methods available to you for any of your financial transactions.
Back up your data on a regular basis and store copies of it in another location (such as the cloud). Be particularly careful with data that employees access through mobile, especially if that means they’ll be using public Wi-Fi. Install apps for security, and require employees to password protect and encrypt their data.
Small Business Trends also reports that the majority of small business data breaches (48%) occur as a result of a negligent employee or contractor.
To prevent a security breach because of poor planning or carelessness, the LAPD suggests you educate your staff about cyber attacks and their consequences for your business. Make sure that you are absolutely clear to your workers about your security policies and the repercussions for breaking them.
Get written confirmation that employees understand and will abide by your procedures. Your policy should cover social media use, as well as how employees should discuss sensitive company information with clients. Procedures for reporting crimes within your company should be clear.
Maintain accountability for sensitive information. Someone in an outside department should be able to verify its accuracy. And it’s wise to limit any means by which someone could access sensitive data or commit theft. If an employee leaves your company, change your passwords and locks.
One of the most important steps you can take to prevent employee security breaches is to carefully vet potential hires in the first place. Thoroughly check the information on candidates’ resumes, including references. Consider running a background check on anyone you want to hire.
As a business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities and a lot on your mind. Don’t let security be something that slips through the cracks.
Step back and assess where your company is as far as protecting the location of your organization, as well as your digital data. And then do everything you can to train your staff and get them on board with your procedures.
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