You are a busy company owner. Your time is short and your budget is tight. Here is your ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure when it comes to protecting your company privacy. Never forget that your data Is vulnerable and valuable!
Information is power. Even more so now, in this age of vast databases and huge computing power to analyze that data. The data that you use in your business is no exception. You have everything from details about customers and clients, agendas from business meetings, emails, negotiation strategies, the recipe for your secret sauce, and lots of other stuff. All of this information is at risk of snooping and theft.
Bill Rounds is a California attorney and focuses his practice on privacy issues. He teaches people how to control how much of their private information is available to the public at HowToVanish.com. Here are his tips for securing your data and peace of mind effortlessly –
Customer data can include identifying information, appetizing for identity thieves and credit fraud. The internal documents of your business are valuable to your competitors, or even an unscrupulous third party who might profit from selling it to a competitor. And it is surprising how easy it might be to get a hold of that data. Free programs can be downloaded that almost do it for you. Whether it is snooping on a wireless network signal, breaking through simple password protected networks, or just an accidental disclosure of data, unless you have a very sophisticated IT department, you are probably at some risk.
Protect Sensitive Data With Encryption
Fortunately the solution is not only free, but it’s easy. If hiring (or beefing up) a full IT department is not your idea of fun, TrueCrypt is a free program that you can use to encrypt documents. I know encryption sounds like super secret spy stuff, but it is much easier than you might think. If you can email, you can encrypt. It can be a very important way to manage sensitive internal data and documents. Plus, if you lose a USB drive or something, your encrypted data will not be compromised.
Knowing that their data is safe with your company can keep your customers very, very happy. Just take a look at the reported data breaches for the past year and the amount of sensitive consumer data that was compromised in the hands of some very recognizable names. It would be very bad PR to show up on that list.
Smartphones Can Be Trouble
Lots of employers provide phones for their employees. It can be very good for business. But remember that smartphones can be a treasure trove of sensitive information. Not only do they have the ability to contain documents (which you should now know how to encrypt) but they can also be a gateway to easy eavesdropping.
Bluetooth functions are great, especially when you live in a state that requires hands-free talking while driving, but it is also extremely easy to hack into the signal and eavesdrop. Employees should be aware that sensitive calls, if made on a cell phone at all, should not be made with a bluetooth set.
It is inevitable that a phone will be accidentally left somewhere, or even stolen. What was bad news for Apple might be bad news for you too. To prevent this kind of problem, allow for remote locking of the phone. This means that you can access the phone from anywhere and lock it down, no matter who has it or what is going on with it. This prevents data from being compromised both accidentally and intentionally or by a rogue, disgruntled former employee who happened to hang on to their phone. Most phones will have this feature. If not, you can get some inexpensive software from companies like Norton or McAfee that give you this capability.
The third thing that can be dangerous to your business are emails. Email is notoriously unsecure. It is sent around the internet in plain text form, meaning anyone who sniffs out your internet usage (something that is easy to do), can see all of your emails. Email is a lot like sending a post card, anyone who handles it can read it. Imagine if a competitor were to get a hold of all of your emails and the emails of your business.
To prevent this, use encrypted email services. Hushmail is a free and simple solution that provides free accounts and paid accounts that have more storage. You can also use GnuPG to encrypt your own emails. It is a little bit more complicated to use, but it’s still free and you might even be able to integrate it with your existing company email system.
There is a real threat to any data that you store. The more you store the higher that threat. That includes the data of your customers and clients. Protecting that data makes business sense. The cost is very low and the protection given is very high. Not only can it avoid disasters, it can improve the satisfaction of your own customers and clients. Satisfied customers are return customers.