5 Ways to Protect Your Small Business on the Internet

May 19, 2014

The Internet can be an incredible platform and resource for small business owners in all industries. On the other hand, it can be one of the most risky tools you ever use. 1-800Accountant offers these helpful hints on protecting a business online:

1. Install and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer(s).

People download and use software to protect their personal computers against viruses and spyware all the time. So why shouldn’t small business owners adopt the same practice? Not only that, but they should focus on using these safety tools even more. Computers that store important or confidential information like a customer database, bookkeeping and payroll spreadsheets, or other private financial information are right up the alley of identity thieves and hackers. Those who create viruses and malware could theoretically access this information online. This could be a huge problem for a small business. Explore your anti-virus and anti-malware options, many of which are free to use or reasonably priced and can be written off as a tax deduction. Just make sure you update them when necessary to ensure you never lose this protection.

2. Shy away from using public Wi-Fi networks when you can.

Wi-Fi access is very convenient and readily available these days, but hackers can get to your data much more easily this way rather than if you use a wired connection. So, whenever possible, shy away from jumping on public Wi-Fi networks or those found in office or apartment complexes. It’s tempting, but it’s risky at the same time. If you have the ability, connect your laptop to a cable, DSL, or fiber hard wire when you browse the information superhighway. If you maintain your own Wi-Fi network, take the proper security steps to encrypt it.

3. Conduct important business tasks on a computer rather than a mobile device.

There has been some research showing that mobile devices like Android smartphones or iPad tablets can be more vulnerable to hackers, unlike desktop or laptop computers that can get rid of viruses with proper software. Plus, mobile devices are smaller and can be lost or stolen much more easily than a regular computer. That’s why it is worth doing most of your business-related work on these traditional machines. At the very least, avoid storing important data on a mobile device.

4. Take precautions to ensure your hardware is safe.

Protecting a business doesn’t mean only focusing on the obvious online aspects of it. Don’t forget to account for the safety of your hardware. This means making sure your phones, computers, tablets, and other devices are fully protected. It might be rare, but there is a chance a person with bad intentions could steal your work laptop and leak every last piece of confidential information on the Internet. Even worse, they could mess with your website or social media pages to the point of no return. Keep passwords on your web-enabled devices and computers, and change them every few months. In addition, don’t forget about disaster preparedness to protect your electronic equipment.

5. Consider using online reputation management services.

If you maintain a website for a business, make sure it is hosted through a reputable hosting service. This rule of thumb should also apply to any online banking, bookkeeping, payroll, or tax preparation services and software you use. Maintain unique passwords that you change for these services as well. Another aspect to be aware of is how your business is presented and reviewed on the Internet. If a competitor or angry customer writes a negative review, it could rank high on Google and serve as a deterrent to potential customers. In these situations, check out the reputation management services available for added online protection.

1-800Accountant can assist you with all of your business needs, including small business accounting and development. To learn more, call 1-888-749-0117 or check out the “Services” page on 1-800Accountant.

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