Compass pointing at security

Top 10 Small Business Security Tips

 

Why is security essential for success?

Maintaining a high level of security is essential for every business. Most small businesses don’t think much about security until something bad happens, whether it’s theft, credit card fraud, or a database leak. Those can be detrimental to small businesses, even with insurance.

Prevention is easier and less expensive compared to dealing with an incident that’s already happened. Taking precautionary security measures saves businesses valuable time, money, and resources.

We share ten tips that you can implement into your small business and maintain a high level of security.

1. Create a security policy

Creating a written security policy is one of the first steps businesses need to take. If it’s not in writing, it probably won’t happen. The security policy should include the standard security procedures and a schedule of regular tasks. Establish the steps you take when an employee leaves the company and the employee onboarding process. There is a higher risk level when employees are leaving the company, and when they’re brand new.

The security policy needs to be shared with every employee and be included in the onboarding process for new employees. When everyone is on the same page maintaining security becomes much more manageable. This policy can include things like who is responsible for locking doors and setting the alarm, who has keys to the building and different areas, cybersecurity policies, and how business assets are handled.

Businesses should review and update their policy at least annually and notify employees of any updates.

2. Schedule regular document shredding

Every business has documents that contain private information, whether it’s invoices, bank statements, applications, or order forms. There are always old documents that need to be shredded.

Businesses can invest in an office shredder or hire a company to pick up their documents and shred them. Either way is much safer than keeping tons of records in the office or throwing them away, allowing thieves to steal valuable information.

It’s just as important to clean out old digital documents. Online documents can be a higher risk because they can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Make sure to properly dispose of old hard drives, USBs, and computers. And remove old files from computers and databases regularly. Make sure to keep what you need safe and get rid of old stuff so it can’t be stolen.

3. Perform regular audits

An audit is an opportunity to get a new perspective and ensure security is being maintained, and policies are being followed. Usually, a third party will conduct the audit, but businesses can perform internal audits as well.

If an internal audit is done, it’s important to involve different teams and people. A self-audit usually opens the door to cutting corners. If the finance department is auditing themselves, small mistakes can slip through the cracks.

During the audits, it’s likely that you’ll find opportunities for improvement. Once the audits are done, take some time to implements steps towards improvement. Regular audits will keep the business on track towards growth and long-term success.

4. Designate computer access levels

Employees should only have access to what they need to perform their tasks. Giving people access to everything increases the chances of fraud and employee theft. This also helps identify fraud because it’s clear who has access to what.

Cyber threats are real, and attackers are looking for easy access points. Larger corporations have a bigger budget and set higher standards, making small businesses an easier target. You can take simple steps to stay safe, and it’s also smart to talk to a cybersecurity professional.

If your business uses an online database or network, every employee should create a unique profile with a username and a strong password. When employees leave their computers, make it a habit to lock their computers, especially if they’re working with sensitive information. In a busy office, it can become easy to get complacent and stop worrying about security. The steps to maintain a safe environment are easy to do, but they’re also easy to neglect.

Here’s a list of Cyber security Solutions to keep your business safe from online threats:

  • AxCrypt – Advanced encryption
  • Comodo - Features a free IT management platform among other products
  • ESET – Secures Windows, Mac, Android and Linux Devices
  • FCC Small Biz Cyberplanner Create a custom planning guide
  • HTTPS Everywhere - a Browser extension that encrypts your communications
  • Lookout Mobile Security - The Leader in Mobile Security for the Cloud-First World
  • NSFOCUS - provides integrated cloud & on-premises security solutions
  • OpenVPN - provides flexible VPN solutions for businesses to secure all data
  • Random.org – A True Random Number Service
  • Social-Engineer.com - helps companies strengthen defenses against human based attacks
  • Stay Safe Online - Cybersecurity Safety Resources From the National Cyber Security Alliance

5. Maintain a safe work space

There are a few simple things you can do to keep your office space safe. These include locking doors and file cabinets, keeping workspaces well lit, and changing locks and passcodes when employees transition.

Staying organized at work is essential. It’s much easier for inventory and profits to slip out the door when organization is lacking. Tracking inventory and paperwork is nearly impossible if it’s scattered abroad.

A safe work space also includes the culture that’s set by leadership. Bosses and managers that are honest and aware will cultivate a workplace culture of honesty and awareness. Employees pay attention to what their leaders do and will make a greater effort to maintain safety as they see the example leadership sets.

6. Install security cameras and monitoring

Security camera systems are one of the best ways to monitor businesses. Visible cameras can deter theft and break-ins and also decrease employee theft. They should be placed in strategic locations: near entrances and exits, above cash registers, and near valuable assets. Cameras around the workplace can increase productivity and ensure employee safety while working and walking through the parking lot at night.

Security systems can also include smoke and fire alarms and automatically contact emergency services. Most insurance companies will give you a discount if you have a modern security system.

It’s also essential to monitor the security footage. If the cameras aren’t monitored until an incident occurs, the damage is done and can’t be reversed. Monitoring the footage regularly can help catch suspicious activity and smaller issues before they become more significant problems.

7. Screen your vendors

People coming in and out of your business need to be screened. It can be easy to let different vendors into a busy work environment without any question or supervision. Establish clear guidelines with vendors, and perform your due diligence before working with them.

When hiring a new vendor, be sure to set a schedule for invoicing and services and perform a background check. Businesses should check reviews and check their credit to identify any red flags. Employees should be aware of the vendor’s schedule and the work they’re providing.

It’s a common scam for fake vendors to show up and steal from a business or for a phony vendor to send an invoice. If your accounting team doesn’t know which vendors are being hired, fake invoices can slip through the cracks.

8. Use credit card and fraud protection

If your business is processing credit cards and payment information, it’s essential to keep it protected. Fraud can be detrimental to a business’s trust. The last thing a business owner wants is to be responsible for fraudulent charges.

Businesses need to keep their technology up to date with new credit card processors and card readers. It’s also important to connect to a secure WiFi network and use strong, unique passwords. Lastly, ensure your sales records are organized and stored safely. Performing regular financial audits is a great way to ensure your records are accurate and well maintained.

9. Learn to recognize employee theft

Employee theft can be challenging to deal with because it’s never suspected. Employers want to think the best of their employees and trust them. Accusing someone of theft isn’t taken lightly, so employers need to recognize when it’s happening and learn how to deal with it properly.

A survey done by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that small businesses were hurt most by internal fraud. The survey also identified some of the most commonly observed behaviors associated with fraud: living beyond their means, financial difficulties, unusual relationships with customers and vendors, and control issues.

The survey also found that most of the perpetrators had a clean employment record, so while background checks are helpful, it’s still necessary to monitor employees and look for red flags.

10. Plan for disasters

When an unsuspected disaster happens, security can be compromised. Does your business have a plan if there’s a fire, earthquake, or flood? The emergency plan should include a plan of action and an emergency contact list.

No one expects an emergency to happen, so it’s a good idea to remind employees about evacuation plans and procedures.

Remember that protecting your business is an investment. Taking steps towards safety won’t always be easy or convenient, and it might be difficult to see the benefits.

The average cost of occupational fraud is around $140,000. Keep that in mind when you’re considering cutting corners in the area of security. We are often inspired to change because of pain, but in this case, prevention is a much better choice. If you can take small steps to increase your business's security, you’ll be able to enjoy greater success and avoid the pains of loss.

Featured Image Credit: Oliver26 / depositphotos
In Post Image Credit: lukasbieri / Pixabay

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