Why Security is Crucial for Business Success
Security is an essential concern for any business, but few think about security from every possible angle. Appropriate security ranges from a necessary minimum business standard to an added benefit for consumers, depending on how you look at it. Small businesses often find offering additional security in a niche known for its lack of security can be a road to success.
Security In Operations
From an internal business perspective, security is not optional. Securing your business transactions, internal processes, even your intellectual property is required for a safe business. A lack of security here leads to issues such as the AOL mispost, where private information was accidentally and irrevocably published publicly.
Part of this security means keeping any internal computers up to date with the latest security fixes and patches for software. Otherwise you run the risk of falling victim to a security hole, such as when Google was attacked and their intellectual property was stolen. For a small business, losing the basic idea you're basing your niche on can be devastating.
Security With BYOD
Much has been said about bring your own device security, and it's more important than ever for small businesses. Between user devices and the cloud, very little of the typical small business infrastructure today is based on an internal computer system. Security here means two things; device security and network security.
For device security, you need to make sure any device connecting to your network is up to date and secure. One user with an unsecured device can transmit a worm into an otherwise secure system. In terms of network security, you need to keep a cautious eye on the access privileges you give to devices. The last thing you need is an outside device with access to your network because you used basic WEP encryption.
Make sure you also have some means to handle the potential lost device that contains business critical information. Mobile apps with GPS locators, remote locks or remote wipes may be a good idea.
Security In Finances
Obviously, any time you're dealing with money, the transaction needs to be secure. This means any transaction with a financial institution or with a customer needs to be done over an encrypted channel. Most shopping cart applications do this by default, so you're at least somewhat covered. You also need to make sure any user information you store is kept in an encrypted state. Otherwise you end up like Sony in the Playstation Network breach, with unencrypted user information leaked to the world. Sony only survived that fiasco by being a huge corporation - a smaller business would likely crumble from the lack of trust.
Security In Customer Transactions
If your business involves linking two users together, providing additional security can be your entire business model.
Customer account information also needs to be kept secure. Encrypt password information and any personal information they store with your site. Customers should never have to worry that a breach will reveal so much as their home address, no matter how publicly they post it elsewhere.
Security In Online Commerce
When users purchase an item from your business online, you have an additional opportunity for more security. In this case, security can include some form of product guarantee. It's not strictly data security, but it's a sense of security in the purchase a user makes. Of course, as mentioned above, you should never skimp on transaction security; unencrypted credit card information is a quick way to lose customers.
All of this active security protects you against threats of hacking or intrusive software. You should also have security in the form of data backups. It's surprising how many companies don't have a disaster recovery plan in place. Among those that do, many use a physical backup in the same location as the primary data servers. In the event of a physical threat, such as a building fire, both the primary and backup servers would be destroyed. Using cloud services is a reasonably secure way to keep data backups, as long as the service provider is itself secure. A private cloud may be necessary for sensitive business or user data, if you store it remotely at all.
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