Ensuring the utmost security of your business serves a two-pronged purpose.
The first and, arguably, more obvious purpose of business security is protecting your capital, whether it’s from investors or straight out of your pocket. The money you put into any enterprise has a better shot at growing if a top-notch security system is in place to safeguard the investment.
The second, and perhaps less obvious, purpose of a foolproof security system for businesses is protecting both internal and external customers. Your internal customers are the staff who help run your business. You need to safeguard them from thieves and burglars, for example. Meanwhile, external customers are the patrons of your products or services. You need to protect e-commerce clients’ private information, for instance.
Both of these groups deserve to be shielded from risks that might result from doing business with you—that is, if you want them to stay loyal and, more importantly, vouch for your name.
To boost your business’ safety measures, adopt these online and offline security strategies.
Offline security measures
Thieves, burglars and vandals are the most common threats to a brick-and-mortar business. To avoid falling prey to them, take these offline security steps:
1. Conduct risk assessment
Don’t go into it blind. Conduct a thorough risk assessment of the premises so you know which security tactics best suit your needs. Otherwise, you might end up spending money on superfluous safety measures.
If your business is located in a remote area, you need CCTVs. Install them in strategic places that afford you a 360-degree view of the property. If your brick-and-mortar shop is in the heart of a busy street or shopping district, window shutters might be enough for when it’s past business hours. If you still choose to install CCTVs, it’ll be more for casual monitoring of pedestrian traffic as opposed to risk mitigation.
Your goal is to invest in safety without compromising the health of your financial ledger.
2. Secure high-value products
Businesses that store large sums of money onsite require a reliable safe. And access should be limited only to relevant people. The fewer, the better.
Devote the same care you give to cash on hand to valuable goods and equipment. If you have an inventory of designer bags yet to be displayed, make sure you have dedicated storage that’s virtually impenetrable to those without official access. The same goes for high-value tools and equipment. Keep them far from windows.
Look for vulnerable doors and windows. Reinforce them with heavy-duty locks. Be wary of all possible points of entry.
3. Tag valuable assets
Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to valuable assets. Perhaps you recently bought the latest laser printing technology and the purchase set you back thousands of dollars. Get the equipment tagged for your peace of mind.
The system works the same as the locator feature of a smartphone. You’ll know the exact whereabouts of any stolen asset thanks to inconspicuous trackers.
4. Install security lighting
Reinforce your video surveillance system with security lighting. Your CCTV monitors will amount to nothing if they only register shadows because there’s insufficient lighting in the area.
You can install motion-sensitive lighting if you don’t want an area permanently lit. That means would-be burglars will have nowhere to hide. Your security team will spot them before they can even attempt to force entry into your property.
Proper lighting prevents accidents, too. Your staff can move around more safely in well-lit areas.
5. Install an alarm system
You already have doors and windows reinforced with heavy-duty locks. Now take your security measures further with an alarm system.
So, how do alarm systems work? You’ll have a device installed in entry points. Those who enter the premises will have to input a code to prevent the alarm from going off. Any unauthorized entry, sans the exact code, will set off the alarm and alert authorities.
If you’re in the process of installing an alarm system, make sure to triple-check how it functions. Meanwhile, if you already have one installed, don’t forget to conduct regular checkups and maintenance.
6. Conduct thorough staff training
Business security is a team effort, so make sure your entire workforce is on board. That begins with adequate safety training.
You need written safety policies that everyone should commit to. To improve compliance, you may incorporate adherence to safety measures into the yearly employee assessment and appraisal.
Keep in mind that office safety does not revolve solely around preventing robbery. It also encompasses your staff’s preparedness for emergencies like a fire, earthquakes or even a mass shooting. Conduct safety drills that address these situations.
The money you put into any enterprise has a better shot at growing if a top-notch security system is in place to safeguard the investment.
Online security measures
1. Educate your employees
Your employees should know what they are up against in terms of cyber threats. Remember that not everyone on your team is a tech wizard. Some of them, especially the boomers, might not understand digital risks. This is where education comes in. Conduct a thorough digital security training to ensure that your entire staff is on the same page.
Make sure to discuss all potential digital points of entry, such as phishing. Employees should learn how to be wary of emails, even if they appear official. Upon receipt of suspicious emails, they should alert the IT team.
Employees must also learn how to responsibly surf the internet, especially during office hours and while using company resources like office Wi-Fi. Something as seemingly innocuous as a pop-up, if unwittingly clicked, could mean compromised data.
2. Secure employee gadgets
An employee’s stolen laptop is a treasure trove for cybercriminals. So make sure that your employees have a strong sense of responsibility and accountability toward company-issued gadgets. Negligence cannot be tolerated.
Encourage your employees to carry out laptop security measures. If that’s beyond their realm of expertise, have your IT staff do the job on behalf of your entire team. Every company-issued laptop must have working and up-to-date antivirus software. The firewall should be turned on, too. These are basic strategies to keep the gadget safe from digital threats like malware.
The same rule applies to company-issued phones, especially if they are used to access sensitive business information.
3. Secure your server
Limit access to company data only to relevant people or, better yet, provide data access on a tiered system. That means your top managers can see sensitive information that is not available to, for example, the office clerk. You don’t want your entire workforce to have the same level of access to company data, especially if that data makes no difference to the deliverables they are assigned.
It’s also advisable to back up data offsite. Doing so will allow you to bounce back fast should you fall prey to hackers. Also, make sure to adhere to a strict server update schedule.
4. Set up multifactor authentication (MFA)
Encourage your staff to use a strong password for company emails or server logins. The best password incorporates signs, numbers, and both small and capital letters. Refrain from using dictionary words. Still, it’s important to note that strong passwords are not enough. Consider them your first line of defense.
For stricter access, set up MFA. Use passwords alongside one-time-pins (OTPs), digital certificates and email authentication, among others. Your best bet is a three-level authentication process.
5. Stay informed
Malware and viruses evolve. The digital security infrastructure you have in place might not be up-to-date. If so, it will not be enough to address how hackers might carry out their cybercrimes. This is why you need to keep abreast of news about digital threats. You cannot afford to be complacent. Relay what you learn to your staff ASAP. Conduct another round of training if necessary.
6. Outsource digital data protection
For small businesses, it is best to outsource digital data protection. That’s a more cost-efficient option, at least compared to building your own IT team from scratch. Through outsourcing, you’ll have a plethora of choices. You can either pay by the hour or by the project. You can either hire one remote worker or hire an agency to gather a small IT team for you. Either way, you can rest assured of unquestionable expertise.
What startups can do immediately for business security
Most of the expedients above require a decent amount of personnel training and financial investment to fully implement. However, if you want to immediately act on your business’ security, here are some of the easiest first steps you can take:
1. Draft a data safety plan and a device management policy
Forming policies that address data and device security concerns should be the first step, as they serve as guidelines for overall business security initiatives. At a minimum, your policies should address:
- Which data should be stored and how it should be handled,
- Who can access this data,
- Which devices are accountable to an employee,
- What to do in case of loss or theft.
2. Use a password management system
You should vary your login credentials across platforms to help contain any potential damage due to a data leak. However, these credentials can be hard to remember. Instead of listing them down with pen and paper or an unsecured file in your device, use an encrypted password management system to keep your login credentials secure.
3. Create backup files
Creating backup files will ensure that you’ll have access to your data and stay operational in case of malware attacks. You can also digitize important physical documents and upload them to the cloud to maintain your access should they get destroyed by floods, fires or other disasters.
You cannot cut corners when it comes to safety.
You cannot cut corners when it comes to safety. Instead, you must adopt all available means to boost your business’ security system. That means putting in place strategies that address both offline and online threats.
Once you get these requirements taken care of, you’ll gain your customers’ trust. Your internal customers will stick around for the long haul since they know you have their welfare in mind. Meanwhile, your external customers will do repeat business with you, knowing you value their security. Chances are that these people will even tell others about the excellent and ethical business you conduct. That right there is organic marketing.