There around 28 million small businesses in the U.S., all inhabiting different industries and catering to unique clientele. Still, many of them share one thing in common: When it comes to their security, they take the approach of “It won’t happen to me.”
But of course it can, and it does. And sticking your head in the sand won’t do you any good.
The following tips, on the other hand, will help protect your small business from physical and digital threats and minimize the damage should the worst case scenario happen. Here are five effective strategies for better small-business security.
Prioritize building upkeep.
A few simple steps can help keep your business’ physical premises more secure:
- Make sure all your doors are heavy-duty, all door locks are deadbolts, and all locks include a reinforced strike plate
- Ensure there’s plenty of lighting on the exterior of the building, including around entrances and exits and any areas that aren’t already illuminated by streetlights
- Keep the exterior of the building clean and free of clutter and debris, especially around windows and doors. The goal is to minimize any hiding spaces or cover for would-be burglars
- Train your team to close and lock all windows in the evenings or whenever they leave the building
Invest in a security system.
This step seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many small business owners skip it, whether because they don’t feel they have the time to identify a quality system or because they’re worried about the cost. That’s a mistake, because there are more effective security solutions on the market than ever before—and many of them are remarkably cost-effective. When selecting a security system, consider the following:
- How many cameras do you need? Consider covering all building exits and entrances as well as interior rooms that contain sensitive information or expensive equipment
- What other features might benefit your business? Technological advancements have enabled everything from remote viewing of security footage to temperature and lighting controls. Research all your options and think carefully about what features might best support the security of your particular business before investing in a system
- Does the provider have a good reputation? It’s important to scope out security system reviews to learn the pros and cons of different systems before investing money and time in the installation
- Will there be any added fees beyond the installation costs? Some providers require monthly or annual contracts, while others require a one-time app download. Research the costs up front so you aren’t hit with unexpected charges
- Is the system scalable? Presumably you want your business to grow, so you’ll want to find a security system that can grow along with it
Safeguard important documents.
Locked doors and security systems are the first line of defense against the theft of sensitive information, but they shouldn’t be the only line of defense. Make sure any documents containing sensitive information about employees, customers, or the company itself are kept under lock and key and are safe from fire or water damage. And because burglars can’t steal what doesn’t exist, schedule regular shredding sessions to do away with any sensitive documents that aren’t absolutely essential.
Physical security threats aren’t the only risk for modern businesses. Cybercrime is on the rise, and businesses of all sizes are vulnerable to these attacks. Implement the following strategies to help protect your digital data:
- Ensure all of the company’s electronic devices are equipped with antivirus and antispyware protection, and make sure these programs and all other software are kept up to date. Similarly, make sure your web server is regularly updated and patched.
- Utilize a strong password for the company’s Wi-Fi network and make sure the network is hidden. Change the admin username and password on a regular basis, disable guest networks, and install firmware updates for your router whenever they become available.
- Back up all your data on a weekly basis and store these backups offsite or on the cloud.
- Make sure your cloud provider’s security protocol is up to snuff. Determine how the company will secure your sensitive data, who has access to the data, and so on. If you have any concerns at all, find a new provider or simply avoid sharing highly sensitive data via the cloud.
- Utilize two-factor authentication on electronic devices whenever possible.
Onboard your team.
Your team is one of the most effective safeguards for your business—provided they have the right training. Empower your employees to be security advocates by:
- Making sure there are clear-cut protocols in place for processing sensitive data and for responding to a data breach or burglary should these events occur.
- Teaching the team how to create strong passwords for their devices and online accounts, and scheduling regular “password change” days for the whole team.
- Teaching the team to avoid sending sensitive information as email attachments.
- Teaching employees how to identify and avoid potential phishing scams.
- Having clear-cut policies in place for the management of keys and electronic devices.
- Limiting access to sensitive data and making sure any employees with access have been thoroughly vetted and trained in data security.
Don’t wait until a theft occurs to secure your small business. Investing in security systems and protocols now will help reduce the chances that you’ll ever have to deal with the headaches and financial burdens of a theft or data breach. And it’s much more effective than sticking your head in the sand.