Congratulations, you’ve made an effort and created a strong password for each of your online accounts. Now you can resume your daily routine, free from the worry that your business may be at risk of a cyber-attack.
Not so fast.
Although a strong password minimizes the likelihood of a security breach, it is not the be-all-and-end-all solution. Today’s cyber criminals are looking for various kinds of weaknesses in your organization. They need data, and will do whatever it takes to get it. Everything from credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, email addresses, online passwords, and much more.
Unfortunately, small businesses and freelancers often dismiss the possibility that they could be targets of a cyber-attack. The truth is, cyber criminals consider your accounts to be easy targets. Without an information security officer by your side, they know your business is more vulnerable. The same holds true whether you are freelancing as a social media expert, taking online bookings for your next sight-seeing tour, or selling your ceramic coffee cups through your website. According to Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat, 43% of cyber-attacks target small business because of their lack of knowledge and training on security. Just as the internet opens you up to new opportunities in e-commerce and freelancing, it also opens you up to new ways of being defrauded, scammed and robbed.
Don’t panic, though. There are some measures you can take to keep these criminals at bay and protect you, your business, and your customers from attacks.
Here are 7 additional tips to keep your business safe:
1] Make use of security certifications and encryption technologies that help protect sensitive data, and display any accompanying logos signifying that your website is safe. Immediately notify your clientele of any breaches in security. Protecting your clients’ information should be your top priority.
2] Learn as much as you can about how to avoid security risks and make the effort to participate in free webinars and reading online articles from trusted sources.
3] Get a good antivirus software, and keep it updated. IT security organizations like McAfee and AVG have loads of useful tips and tricks.
4] Always update your operating systems and web browsers.
5] Create and maintain internal and customer-facing risk management policies and procedures so your employees know what’s appropriate and what isn’t when working online. Establish clear Internet and social media usage policies as well as rules for using email safely.
6] Familiarize yourself with the contracts you have with your financial institutions and other business partners. Know your liability in case of losses through fraud and other security breaches.
7] As a freelancer, you must also protect yourself outside your home. For those times when you decide to work from a library or café, remember that most public networks tend to be unsafe and risky to use. Protect yourself using a Virtual Private Network (VPN); it will create an encrypted connection that acts like a tunnel between you and an outside server.
By following these tips, you are preventing yourself, your assets and your customers from falling victim to potential threats lurking online. Some of the most important changes a small business or freelancer can make to safeguard against data breaches are relatively simple and require minimal effort. Taking appropriate measures to ensure the trust of your current clientele is as important as making new ones. After all, your business depends on the trust built between you and your customers.