My name’s Dave and I’ve been fixing computers for almost ten years now. Business people ask my advice about all aspects of the online world, and one subject that comes up all the time is security.
Protecting our businesses from criminals who are up to no good and looking for access to our sensitive information and money is something every entrepreneur must give priority to.
I’ve given it a lot of thought and of course it applies to me too. So here are six ways you can help secure your business online. Some of them are sheer common sense and others may never have crossed your mind.
1. Update, Update and Update Again to Protect Your Business Online
Software is constantly being updated – and with good reason. The bad guys are constantly looking to get ahead of the game and sneak in through a door you thought was locked. So the good guys have to be on their toes the whole time, identifying new threats and introducing safeguards against them, as well as spotting potential weak spots and fixing them before they can be exploited.
As irritating as it might be to have to wait a few minutes at the start of the day because updates are being installed, talk to somebody who has been a victim of cyber-crime and you will be glad to sit back for a short while as your security is improved.
We should be grateful when this is done automatically for us, but we should also make sure we keep up to date, even to the extent of using the latest version of things we’ve been taking for granted for years.
2. Protect Your Business by Not Downloading Apps and Plugins If You Don’t Need It
Every time you download something you expose yourself to potential harm.
Ever found you had an extra browser you didn’t ask for and which is clashing with something else?
It was probably included with something you did want, and you had to opt out of taking it rather than in. And if something like that can get past right under your nose, imagine what else could be hidden in the legitimate stuff.
So if you don’t need any app or plugin, don’t ask for it and don’t accept it. Same with links. Don’t click on them unless you’re pretty sure they’re okay and it is something important to you.
3. Don’t Make Your Business Insecure by Being Lazy with Passwords
We’ve all heard that grinning idiot saying, “Oh, I never forget a password because I always use the same one.” And since these over-confident people exist, it’s a very basic part of the hacker’s arsenal if he or she somehow finds one of your passwords, to try it on one of your other accounts, just in case.
Use obscure things that only you know: old addresses and phone numbers you don’t have anymore, use a 5 instead of an S – anything to make things difficult for unwelcome visitors.
4. Keep Yourself Up to Date to Protect Your Business
This is another type of laziness you would do well to avoid. Try to take an interest in new developments. We are bombarded with information these days and it is tempting to glance at a security notice from, say, your bank and revert to Homer Simpson mode: “Blah blah yeah yeah”.
If they’re recommending a new product idea or an extra layer of security, they’re trying to help you. So the least you can do is read it and take the simple steps to implementing it.
5. Cover Your Tracks When You Leave
If you pass your device on to somebody else because you’ve got a new one, make doubly sure there is nothing left on it that could be exploited.
Even if you give it to your Mom, who you trust completely, you don’t know if somewhere down the line she will give it to somebody else.
The only way to make sure there is nothing that can be retrieved from your computer or mobile phone is to do factory reset, which returns it to the state it was in when you bought it. That means the important information – not to mention the potentially embarrassing stuff – is long gone if some technically-minded crook starts sniffing around in there.
Also, it would be smart to use trusted browsers when you surf the web as well.
6. Know Your Repairman
I once went to a doctor in a small town and found she had a similar problem to me with her hand – a crooked finger that needed a simple operation. So I said, “So you’ll be going to Dr. ****, then”, referring to the local surgeon. “God, no. I wouldn’t have it done around here,” she exclaimed, and without saying so, warned me that the guy was no good.
You should do that with the people you entrust with your device if they are supposedly fixing it for you.
If your aim is to run a successful online business, leave no stone un-turned. Ask about their qualifications and experience. Talk to people who have used them before.
If you come to me, you can ask anything you like – I won’t be offended. It makes sense, I understand and I’ve got nothing to hide. Any good professional will have the same attitude, because what you’re entrusting them with is very valuable to you.
Over to you friends… Has there ever been a case before where sensitive personal or business information were taken from your computer or mobile gadget? Share with us how it happened and what you did afterwards.
About the Author
I’m Dave, owner of a New Jersey based computer repair shop with thousands of clients. With over 8 years in the tech industry I avidly blog about all things computers, gadgets and gizmos.