The rise of the digital world has presented many great opportunities for business owners everywhere – and 2014 is sure to bring even further new developments in this area. Unfortunately ‘going digital’ has also caused some big threats to both individuals and businesses alike, as sensitive information is now commonly stored on computers and can be accessed by digital criminals. Most companies will have sensitive information stored digitally either on computers, on cloud storage or on remote storage devices like portable hard drives or USB sticks. Whether this is information relating to the company, or customer information, extra care should be taken to ensure that this cannot fall into the wrong hands.
Information can be stolen physically from your office or property by thieves who take your computers or storage devices with the intention of stealing the information these contain. To stop this happening you should invest in a decent security or alarm system to act both as a deterrent to opportunist thieves and to alert you of any break-ins or security breaches. Be careful when travelling with your laptop or USB devices if these contain sensitive information, as misplacing these will leave you open to information theft. There was a high profile incident where thousands of people’s bank details stored for tax credits were left on a computer on a train by accident, calling into question the responsibility of those in charge of keeping this information safe.
Ensure that anything that can be is encrypted to make it harder for wannabe thieves to steal, and always use secure passwords that only those who really need access are privy to. Although it’s not a nice thought, anyone could be an information thief, and as such you should be careful, even amongst employees, when it comes to who you share information with – and always change passwords regularly if someone leaves the company or you suspect that they have been compromised.
The Internet has made it harder to keep information safe, as it is possible to access information remotely from anywhere in the world. This is particularly problematic if you use cloud storage or keep your business information on a server, as hackers can gain access to anything stored here. Anti-virus and anti-malware software goes a long way to preventing hackers entry to your systems, preventing spy software like Trojan viruses from taking hold. If you have done everything you possibly can to keep information safe then you are less likely to fall victim to these criminals. However, even the best security can be broken through occasionally, and as technology changes so quickly there may be a time where you have information stolen. The key is to be honest about what has happened so that those involved can take measures to protect their accounts and information. You should look at taking out professional indemnity insurance too as this will cover you against hefty claims should the worst happen.
Failing to keep information safe and not letting customers know that you are using and storing their information responsibly could stop them from doing business with you. Let your customers know what their information will be used for and assure them that you will take precautionary measures to stop this falling into the wrong hands to keep trust in your company high.