How many business owners would write down their employees’ personal details and file them in a cabinet, only to leave the door unlocked with an arrow directing deviants toward the data?
Very few, and those who do are likely to be confined to a padded cell.
However, many companies still take risks by storing their employees’ private information in a virtual filing cabinet without the appropriate safeguards in place to protect personal details from prying eyes.
But why is it so important to defend employees’ details?
With businesses compiling increasing amounts of personal information about employees — date of birth, address, social security numbers — and the way in which this information is often transmitted, it can be incredibly easy for savvy internet criminals to access personal data to obtain credit cards, arrange a loan or perform some other type of fraud.
Considering the rifeness of cybercrime (a study carried out by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies showed cybercrime costs the U.S. government and businesses around $100bn every year ), it really is in you and your employees’ best interests to curtail the risk to avoid the threat of identity theft.
Importantly, although small businesses are most vulnerable to cybercrime, it’s crucial that every firm, regardless of size, should be prepared to eliminate any possibility of internet thieves getting their hands on sensitive data.
Enhance computer security
Regardless of what a computer is used for in your company, it’s essential to keep it protected with a firewall and the latest antivirus software. Why? To protect your operating system and prevent malware from making your PC its home. Also, any employee information held on your HR software should be encrypted to prevent cybercriminals from obtaining the details they need to commit a crime.
Additionally, ensure staff members only have access to the systems and details they need to do their job, and make them aware of the consequences of sharing their passwords with other people, regardless of how trustworthy they seem.
Pay for an anti-spyware program
Spyware is a malicious piece of software that can install itself on your computer — without your knowledge — in order to conduct a clandestine operation to collect your passwords, among other things. From a business point of view, a machine infected with spyware can open up banking details or credit card information to scammers, which is why an anti-spyware program is crucial. It will scan your systems and keep it protected from any attempt to seize sensitive records.
Treat emails with suspicion …
Not every email, of course, but emails that ask you to log in to some site or other and confirm your password should be treated with the contempt they deserve. Be especially wary of emails from banks and ensure they are 100 percent genuine before you act. Additionally, avoid clicking on a hyperlink contained within the email. Instead, head for the actual site and log in that way.
Keep your staff in the loop
You ensure your staff members are trained to a standard to carry out their job properly, which is why they should also be equipped with the knowledge to keep themselves (and your business) safe from online criminals. Make them aware of the precautions they should take when browsing the web and employ a best practice guide for creating passwords (8-10 characters long and a combination of letters, numbers and symbols is best).
Admittedly, much of the information here is common sense, but it pays to be reminded of how easy it will be for the unscrupulous to get their hands on sensitive information if your business is not fully protected from the dangers.