How a Digital Entrepreneur Can Stay Safe Online
If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s important to have an online presence. Your digital footprint allows customers to find and follow you to gain insight into your products and services, learn about discounts and more. Although having a digital presence is key, there is also an assumed risk of having information compromised or used against the company. In today’s climate, this is more common than many may realize. There are ways to strengthen and minimize the risk of your online security that can be done immediately to give you some peace of mind:
What exactly is a VPN? VPN stands for a virtual private network, which helps protect your profile when you’re working online. If you travel a lot or work from unsecured networks like those in coffee shops and airports, it becomes easier for hackers to access your information. A VPN encryption masks your online presence, while you are out and even while working at home.
Change social settings
Revising your privacy settings to those who know you will keep your whereabouts unknown while traveling. As an entrepreneur, it’s good to have a separate business profile that does not share personal information. Keeping your business profiles separate can help deter scammers looking for a way in.
Protect your password
Although hearing the value of having a password that is unique is consistently preached, it is easy to use the same one over and over. This is an open opportunity for hackers to get in. Make sure you have unique passwords that cannot be easily guessed and do not use the same one for multiple accounts. It is also a good practice to change your password every six months. While it may seem tedious because you have a number of accounts, it will be well worth it in protecting your business accounts.
Cover yourself in the cloud
Cloud services can be helpful, especially when you’re always on the go. You have a lot of information that needs to be accessed and do not want to carry around hard drives and other files. This is convenient, but must be protected to keep out the vulnerabilities. Do not put anything in the cloud that would hurt the functionality of your business if accessed. While convenient, the cloud is an online space that can be hacked. Keep that in mind when backing up your files and be selective in what you put there.
Be mindful of the sites you use. Every online space and website should have disclaimers and information on how they use your footprint. If you are using a site that can compromise your business, locate how you can opt out and do that. A lot of companies will share your information with third parties without your knowledge (it’s in their disclaimers), but chances are you haven’t read the fine print. Do your due diligence with every site and company you become associated with.
Malware is becoming a secondary word when discussing the internet. It’s important to use anti-malware software, as anti-virus software does not always detect malware. This could infect your computer and cause a lot of problems. Make sure you are utilizing the most updated versions of the software to ensure you have the highest levels of protection.
Using secured websites
Web browsers have updated their security standards, which have switched “HTTP” to “HTTPS.” When websites have https, it means the site is safe and secure to use. Online venues and stores that have the “s” in the access point are the ones you should be using. Additionally, if you are selling items online, or handle sensitive information, you should have the “https” symbol to access your site.
Be aware of phishing attacks
This is another easy way hackers and scammers trick online users. You are sent an email from a company you are familiar with requesting certain information, such as a financial institution. This is a phishing attack, and if you look closely, you can detect abnormalities. One way to avoid this is that if you receive an email like this with a link, bypass the link and go directly to the site of the financial institution or website. This way, you can verify whether or not the communication was official. In most instances, it is not. Financial institutions do not request personal information via email.
Hackers love small businesses, as they seem to have the most vulnerabilities. You can circumvent this issue by utilizing the tips listed, in addition to other simple things like training your employees on online safety practices, using up-to-date systems, and implementing safeguards that will protect your business and its online footprint at all times. Once you recognize you are a target, you can implement strategies to keep yourself from the firing line.
Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report shows that 58 percent of malware attacks are targeted to small businesses. This is due to small business owners having a false sense of security, and they think they are too small to be a target. Having this mindset is dangerous and can quickly compromise the security of the business. Operating on a daily basis with the perception that you can be hacked can assist in getting the right protocols in place.
Once you have determined which systems work best for you, getting an evaluation from a reputable IT professional is the next step, especially if your business is growing. Making the investment now to ensure your online safety and the integrity of your business can save time and money down the road. The key is surviving through any attack by taking the measures needed that will make a positive impact now and in the future. Being an entrepreneur is exciting and challenging, but protecting your intellectual property is even more important in building and maintaining the legacy you wish to share with the masses.