In the digital age we now find ourselves, it’s important to remain safe and keep your confidential information protected. As a new startup owner, this is even more important due to the fact you’re in charge of protecting your clients’ personal information, such as their names, credit card information, emails, addresses, and more.
Along with your clients, you also have to protect your own business. No matter the size of your startup, you’re going to be handling large sums of money and data that can be vulnerable to cyberattacks if the proper measures aren’t taken.
As you get ready to cut the red ribbon and open your doors to the public, it’s important you make sure your online security is up to snuff. Below, you’ll find key tips on how to remain safe online, so you can run an efficient business and hold the trust of your customers.
Create strong usernames and passwords and change them often
This may go without saying, but creating strong usernames and passwords is essential to protecting your business. After all, this information is all you need to break into a computer or mobile device to access information. If your usernames and passwords for various accounts are easy to guess or decipher, you can find yourself in the midst of a cybersecurity attack that can steal important information and wipe away crucial data. To create a strong password:
- Use ten characters or more
- Incorporate both uppercase and lowercase letters
- Include numbers
- Use special characters
Not only should you create strong usernames and passwords for every account and software you use, but you should also change them often—preferably every 90 days. Changing your usernames and passwords is a simple step you can take that can mitigate any chances of data breaches.
While it may seem unnecessary, the longer you leave a password unchanged, the more likely it can be hacked by a cybercriminal. Each account should have a separate username and password, and you can easily track and manage all of your passwords through password managers like Keeper Security.
Verify users through two-factor authentication
To take your username and password security one step further, enable two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication, also called multi-factor authentication and dual authentication, is a security measure that requires a user to provide additional information to access an account.
Examples of information or evidence a user may be required to provide include a special number or code sent through text or email, special questions, such as “what is your dog’s name?” or biometric information such as a fingerprint, face, or iris scan.
If your startup uses G Suite by Google, which includes Google Docs, Google Drive, Gmail, and numerous other applications, you can enable two-factor authentication every time an employee needs to log in. Not only will an employee need to type in a username and password, but they’ll also be required to input a code sent by Google through text, voice call, or a mobile app
Encrypt your data
Encryption is another necessary data security measure you need to take to protect your business against cybercrime. Encryption works by turning data into code, which can only be accessed by a decryption key or password. If a cybercriminal attempts to hack encrypted data, they will only get the encrypted code, not the confidential information.
Encryption is important for a variety of reasons, especially as a business owner. If you accept payments online or you collect a user’s personal information such as their name, email address, and personal address, hackers can easily intercept it as it travels through the web. With encryption, you’ll be able to encrypt this confidential data while it’s in transit, which protects it from malware, viruses, and hackers from intercepting it.
You can also encrypt data once it’s stored, such as saving financial documents or reports to your computer’s hard drive. Encrypting data that is stored will often need a password or decipher key in order for it to be opened or unlocked.
Install a firewall
A firewall is another essential defense against cyber attacks. Firewalls work by examining data that comes in through the internet and determines whether it is safe. Firewalls are necessary if your company’s website has a payment terminal where consumers input their name and credit card information.
Cybercriminals often try to inject malware into your terminal to steal this information. With a firewall in place, it will analyze data coming in and out of your terminal, and if it detects activity wasn’t authorized by you, the process will be terminated.
Use antivirus software
Antivirus and antispyware software can also help you improve your startup’s online security. There are many vendors that offer antivirus software you can install on your computer and other devices to prevent viruses, malware, and other malicious attacks from infiltrating your company’s confidential data.
Antivirus software works by checking for malware, worms, and viruses hiding in programs on your computer. Often, cybercriminals will inject outdated programs with security issues to gain access to your computer. It’s important to regularly update programs you use, as new updates often strengthen their security measures. Antivirus software checks your computer’s programs and compares them to known malware, and if anything suspicious is detected, it will disarm or remove the malicious software from your device.
Secure your WiFi network
Securing your WiFi network is a key data security measure all small businesses should be taking. Why? Because WiFi is one of the easiest routes cybercriminals can take to gain entry to your startup’s data, which is why you should also hide and secure your WiFi network.
Installing a firewall and encrypting your WiFi network can also help prevent attackers from hacking your information. You should also password protect your router, which will require users trying to gain access to your WiFi type in a secure password.
The bottom line
Improving your startup’s online security is essential for every business owner. Especially as more companies switch to remote work. Security is especially important if you are a business like SmartMove, because you have access to a large database of consumer information. If your startup is in a similar position, it is vital that you do not cut corners when it comes to security.
We live in a digital age, which means a majority of our economy and social habits are run on the internet. New modes of communication and ways to shop brings new forms of security threats. From using antivirus software and firewalls to encrypting data and using strong passwords and usernames, these tips will help your startup remain safe and secure online
About the author
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.