How to protect the privacy of your small business

Much like an entrepreneur would incorporate a business to ensure it receives limited liability protection, it is critical that owners of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) emphasize protecting the privacy of a small business.

Data breaches and cybersecurity threats can threaten the security and privacy of a small business. A cyber attack, for instance, can result in stolen personal data from customers. Some of this data might later be used for identity or credit card theft purposes.

Customers that are the victims of cyber attacks might not feel comfortable shopping with the company again. As a result of a security breach, the business might lose valuable clients and their trust. The more severe a security breach, the higher risk a business has of losing even more private information pertaining to the company.

Tips for protecting your online privacy

Never say that a data breach or cybersecurity threat cannot happen to a small business. The good news is that protecting data is not as expensive or intensive as one might imagine. Follow these best practices to protect your data and decrease the risk of cybersecurity threats.

  1. Establish a privacy policy.
  2. Train and educate employees.
  3. Invest in security software.
  4. Implement multi-factor authentication.
  5. Use a secure WiFi network.
  6. Regularly backup data.
  7. Invest in cyber liability insurance.

Let’s explore best practices for privacy protection a little more in-depth.

1. Establish a privacy policy

One of the best cybersecurity practices to protect the privacy of a small business, its employees, and its customers is to create a privacy policy. Explain in a privacy policy how the business will work to keep personal information safe.

Some businesses collect customer data, such as names, phone numbers, and email addresses. The privacy policy should be able to detail what kind of data the business is collecting, what the company plans to do with it, and security measures that will help protect this data. Avoid collecting sensitive data, like social security numbers (SSNs) or other confidential information from customers.


2. Train and educate employees

Did you know human error is the cause of 90% of data breaches? Small businesses must take the time to train and educate employees to protect this information. This training will allow employees to better understand the important role they play in helping protect customer data and other valuable business information.

Employee training for how to protect the privacy of a small business should prioritize the following areas:

  • Tips for creating strong passwords and resetting these passwords every 60 to 90 days.
  • Learning about the latest news and trends in fraud schemes.
  • Security best practices, such as knowing how to spot unsolicited or unknown emails and avoiding opening email attachments and clicking on suspicious links.
  • Advice on safeguarding sensitive data. For example, employees can be taught to store data in spaces approved by the business, like an authenticated company cloud service.

Once training is complete, small businesses can have employees sign documents or print paperwork stating they have been properly trained and educated on the company’s security policies.


3. Invest in security software

Small businesses are often advised to run a “clean machine.” This means downloading up-to-date software, web browsers, and operating systems to keep viruses and malware from internally impacting the privacy of the small business.

What kinds of software should entrepreneurs install to protect the privacy of small businesses? Here are a few options to consider for data security purposes:

  • Anti-malware software to help combat phishing attacks.
  • Network security software to scan and identify vulnerabilities prior to a data breach.
  • Antivirus software which scans for viruses and malware after each computer update.
  • Firewall software to keep cyber-attackers from entering a private network and accessing its data.
  • Computer security software for real-time protection against any incoming threats. This software also scans computers for existing threats and identifies, blocks, and deletes suspicious codes and software.

Remember to audit your website regularly and turn on automatic updates on software programs.

4. Implement multi-factor authentication

Part of employee security training includes learning how to create strong passwords and regularly changing these passwords every 60 to 90 days. Another best practice for protecting passwords and ensuring safe logins is implementing multi-factor authentication.

Multi-factor authentication helps verify the identity of the person logging in and adds an extra layer of security protection by asking for additional information along with their username and password.

What is multi-factor authentication? Let’s say an employee is logging into their work portal. They type in their username and password but must provide additional information before they may complete the login process.

Some examples of multi-factor authentication include receiving a call on an employee’s cell phone or texting a passcode. Multi-factor authentication helps verify the identity of the person logging in and adds an extra layer of security protection.

5. Use a secure Wi-Fi network

Most small businesses have a Wi-Fi network in place for employees and staff members. This network should be secure, encrypted and hidden.

Employees working from home or working remotely should utilize a virtual private network (VPN) to protect business data and other confidential information.

6. Regularly back up your business data

Remember to backup essential data regularly on computers! Some of this data might include Word processing documents, spreadsheets, financial files, accounts receivable and payable files, human resources files, and databases.

Turn on automatic settings to backup these files. Data stored in the cloud should also be backed up regularly, too.

Do you have print copies of important documents? Keep them stored in a safe, separate location from the business in the event of a natural disaster or any other issue that can potentially impact the business.

7. Invest in cyber liability insurance

There are insurance options available for data breach and cyber liability purposes.

Entrepreneurs can reach out to these insurance companies for a quote and make a purchase based on the needs of the business to further ensure the security and privacy of the small business.

Privacy is an important asset for small businesses and will continue to be important in the future. Hopefully, these guidelines on how to protect the privacy of your small business can help move your business in a more secure direction.

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