Staying Safe in a Web Based Work Environment
More and more start-ups are choosing to run their businesses entirely online. Why? For many, it’s the easiest way to grow a big business without having to spend a lot of money on overhead costs. Running a business via the web allows the entrepreneur to hire employees from all over the world and sell products through the global marketplace. It’s not just for informational products anymore. Telecommuting is on the rise, web based business models are on the rise—heck, even farmers markets are starting to go virtual.
This is great for entrepreneurs who are worried about their budgets, but it’s also kind of scary. The more business that is done online, the greater an entrepreneur’s security risk. Remember: clouds and virtual servers are never 100% secure and now that hackers are starting to target mobile devices as well as traditional computing terminals it’s no wonder everybody’s on edge.
Here are some of the things you can do to protect your business and your private life if you operate primarily online.
Set Up Your Internet Security
The first thing you need to do is protect your computers. Internet security software has come a long way over the last few years. Now these software packages target many more security threats than they used to. Even better news, most of the major internet security software manufacturers also make software for smartphones and tablet computers, as well as traditional laptops and desktops. Make sure this security is installed on anything that can connect to the web.
Note: Installing it isn’t enough to protect you. You also need to run scans regularly (at least once a week).
Passwords Are Important
According to this fantastic guide in the Wall Street Journal, one of the ways hackers gain access to your systems is your failing to change whatever default passwords your software and hardware manufacturers put in place. As soon as you install anything, go into that thing’s security settings and make sure that you change usernames and access passwords and turn the security settings all the way up.
- Choose passwords that are solid and as hacker proof as possible: no actual words, use a mixture of letters and numbers, use punctuation whenever possible, etc.
- Change your passwords regularly—at least once a month.
- Use different passwords for different things. This way you don’t have to worry that one successful break-in will lead to dozens more.
Keep Secured Information Secured
One of the biggest problems in hiring a virtual workforce is figuring out who you can trust and who is sketchy. Background and reference checks can only go so far. Protect your company’s sensitive information by keeping as much of it as possible on a Need to Know Basis. Require that anybody who has access to financial or customers’ private information install remote monitoring software, so that you can make sure that they aren’t sharing that information with people who shouldn’t have it.
Note: Most people aren’t going to want to install this software on their personal machines and that’s completely understandable. Either provide the machine they will use for working with you or give them at least some of the money they will need to buy the machines for themselves. Then only allow access to your sensitive information via those machines’ IP addresses.
Do you run a virtual business? What are some of the things you’ve done to protect your company’s information and best interests? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section.