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Security considerations for small businesses in 2017

Small businesses are not exempt from caring about security. They, too, need to be as invested in what occurs in keeping their data and other aspects of the organisation secure. Though so much of security is often focused on big businesses and major breaches, such as hacking and cyber invasion, there are many aspects to security worth considering. To that end, if you want to be able to protect your businesses from outside interference, in order to actually produce quality work and meet client expectations, it’s important to consider what is happening in terms of security in the future. Businesses must stay ahead of security concerns in order stay ahead of those who would do damage and participate in criminal activities.

Everything is cyber

These days every business understands that being connected is essential. No longer are modern businesses only local, but are branched out into the rest of world. They exist in various forms, communicating through social media, email, website and so on. Even internally, data is stored digitally, people are able to operate and conduct meetings regardless of location. But this internal idea is itself part of the problem. As the American National Cybersecurity Institute noted:

“One of the biggest threats a company has that puts it at risk for an attack or data breach is its internal users. Lack of cybersecurity awareness and training can put organizations at a significantly higher susceptibility to cybercriminals. As Tripwire’s security engineer pointed out, security doesn’t just mean taking measures to prevent the attacks, but providing training and guidance on how to handle incident response in the event that an incident occurs. And this should be done throughout all levels of the organization, especially considering ransomware schemes like spear phishing happen primarily through emailing employees.”

Training is important but so is monitoring. So often when people consider installing, say, CCTV camera or a video wall controller, the assumption that it is to prevent outside interference. But the threats come from inside, too. This can be intentional or negligence. As SC Magazine pointed out:

“[Workers] taking the necessary steps to ensure security in the workplace becomes less of a priority for them as they seek to perform their job functions efficiently. In fact, 40 percent of firms expect a data breach in the next 12 months as a result of employee behavior, and employees indicated a widespread lack of awareness of good cybersecurity practice. The consequence is that over the last year, 78 percent of breaches have originated from within the extended enterprise (including contractors and ex-employees), the report found.”

This is a shocking number. In terms of the future, more businesses must focus on creating policy and training programs to highlight the dangers posed by employees themselves.

Education

Learning new skills and acquiring knowledge is never a bad thing. This is particularly important if, as we noted, employees learn what to do and what not to do in order to minimise any cyber dangers to businesses. Businesses owners must take the necessary steps to help minimise this danger and this means supplying education and courses that can enable their employees to not make any mistakes. Of course, nothing is perfect, but training isn’t about perfection in this case – it’s about reducing the chances of invasion, manipulation and so on from occurring which could threaten the whole company.

For example, you could begin by putting in place policies that minimise or completely restrict mobile devices. As Forsythe notes:  “As smartphones and tablets become constant companions, cyber attackers are using every avenue available to break into them.”

Most of us expect these expensive pieces of tech to be secure. In reality, they are not. With simple equipment, hackers can get in and make use of other, more powerful equipment nearby. For example, says Forsythe, “hackers can gain access to a nearby mobile device in less than 30 seconds and either mirror the device and see everything on it, or install malware that will enable them to siphon data from it at their leisure.”

You can also encourage employers to change their passwords regularly, instituting Two Factor Authentication on all their important accounts. Google, for example, sends a message to your phone when you login to your email from another device or computer. After all, if you suddenly login from somewhere else, that’s a red flag of hacking – since it means someone else is invading your space. But sometimes, of course, it’s just using a new or another device. Sending a quick note to your phone lets you authenticate it. Since hackers don’t have your phone, this is a much more secure method and is recommended by many cybersecurity experts.

Tips to improve your businesses security

There’s been so much conversation recently about the need for online security. Hacks are taking place often and to bigger corporations each time. While protecting yourself from cyber security threats is important, it’s essential that you don’t forget the importance of physical security too. And this isn’t just a concern for big businesses. Even small businesses must pay attention to their physical security needs and ensure they have the proper amount in place. Here are some steps for businesses to take note of.

Find the right security provider

It’s essential that you use a security company which understands and anticipates your needs as well as provides quality service. That’s why it’s important to ask them the right questions:

  • How will they assess your security needs?
  • How thorough will their security assessment be?
  • How much security do you really need?
  • How flexible is your contract?
  • How much experience does the company have?
  • What kind of training does the company’s staff undergo?

Explore security options

Access control is going to be one of the most important physical security avenues for your business. However, depending on your business, budget and building layout you would choose different types of access control. It’s essential that you choose the right access control solution for your business. For example, turnstile gates are ideal for regulating foot traffic, while mantraps are suitable for high security businesses like banks and jewelry stores. Just be sure to take a close look at your business and its security needs.

Have the right security for your business

Different businesses have different security needs. Some businesses have more security needs than others. For instance, these businesses need 24 hour surveillance, security control room and full-time guards. Other businesses, on the other hand, don’t need nearly as much security. These are the businesses which need just a single security guard or access control at entrances and exits. Anything more would be unnecessary and merely an additional cost. It’s Important that you have your needs properly and professionally assessed to ensure your security needs are met.

Implement and uphold security procedures

It’s essential that you have specific security protocols planned and that your staff is aware of what those are. You need to then ensure your security protocols are consistently being upheld. There’s little point having a security system in place if it’s not being adhered to all the time. It only takes one instance of security being seen as sufficient for disaster to hit. It’s essential that this doesn’t happen to your business.

Create access areas for staff

Your different employees will need access to specific and different areas of your building. Their access should be regulated and controlled to those specific areas. You should also enforce rules such as whether your employees have to wear staff identification to all times. Other workers, such as cleaners, security and maintenance staff will also need access to the building on occasion. You also need to ensure these visitors are given access when necessary.

Monitoring

Some form of monitoring will likely be required to keep track of access control. Often this is in the form of security guards or access cars. An option is to use access cards which can monitor access and timekeeping. These can be easily tracked more easily than actual keys and more information about employees. They can also be deactivated when necessary and be programmed to provide access to certain areas or limit access at certain times and days.

High-security areas

Certain areas of your office space will need more security than others. These areas will have to available to some staffers and off limits to others. It’s essential that you establish where those areas are and how much security they need. This will change from business to business and is not a one size fits all approach. your security needs may also differ depending on where your offices are based. For instance, if your business is situated in Nigeria, you may have different security needs for your Lagos office than you would in your Kano space.

Following these points should help you to determine your security needs and implement only the most important. This will help to save you both time and money, two important factors for all business owners.

Ways to protect your children and your family

For many people, the most important thing in their lives is their family. Their spouses and their children’s safety and security is their number one concern and all they work toward. But what specifically should the goals and targets of our incomes be? In what should we invest and participate to ensure a successful future for our families and children?

Be secure ourselves

Primarily, we need to be secure before we can make our children secure. During possible plane accidents, we’re told to first secure our oxygen masks before helping passengers; similarly we must reach a position of stability before creating stability for others. After all, if we can’t regularly feed, clothe, etc., ourselves then what hope do we have of raising safe kids or creating a secure home for them to flourish in.

Education

Many people, organisations and governments consider education to be the most essential aspect of people’s lives, that enables them to achieve their . And for good reason: education isn’t merely textbooks, school, reports or degrees. It’s broader: it’s about learning and testing yourself, discovering more about the world and its people, overcoming your own prejudices and assumptions, and being in a state of perpetual curiosity and admitted ignorance.

As parents, we don’t stop learning – in fact, one of the educations parents get is upon becoming parents. With every person being unique, so will our children, requiring us to learn how to manage and care for them and their needs. This means learning what sort of education is necessary for them: can they operate in ordinary schools, special schools, do they require further instruction, etc.

Add to this securing significant payment for their tertiary education – which we all know costs a great deal – and we’re left recognising the monumental importance and cost education will have on us.

However, by giving our children the best education, we also create a safer future for them that allows them to have more stability.

Keeping track of their movements and behaviour

Yet, education isn’t enough. What about physical security? Many more liberal or progressive parents might balk at the idea of monitoring your child, yet even the most lax of parents does so: for example, when going to a busy mall, you will keep track of your child’s movements. This is no different when setting up cameras, getting itemised or prepaid billing for their bank accounts or phones, etc.

We don’t need to be invasive but we do need to be careful. This is especially so with the rise of cyberbullying: since everyone has some kind of digital existence, with Facebook or other social media accounts, or even blogs and websites, this also comes with new – yet old – dangers. Here, too, we must be vigilant  as we would be if children went out at night with strangers.

Safe home

In order to aid in all of these previous endeavours, a secure home is an absolute necessity: there’s little point in investing all of our money into an education if the child is terrified of being home.

There are all sorts of ways, depending on where we live, how much we earn (remember, our view of being secure first?) , etc., that we can protect ourselves and our children: fences, proper doors and bars, safer neighbourhood, security details and so on.

While these are some of the essential ways to secure yourself and your family, they are not the only or all. Think carefully and remember the importance of what your protecting: but also don’t strangle them because you hold them too close.

3 must-haves for a small business

The business of being in business is no easy feat. There are so many factors to take into consideration to ensure the profitability of an offering. From attracting customers, retaining them, converting them to purchase goods, to having them return for additional purchases are all the functions a business owner needs to tend to. Not forgetting the all-important after sales service.

When businesses are run alone, business owners often find themselves struggling to tend to these essential business functions optimally. The introduction of business convenience mechanisms is thus vital to the survival of small businesses. These mechanisms, largely electronic based, help business owners to effectively manage and grow their businesses.

Business software

Back in the day, businesses manually recorded all sales and other important business related information. Today, this is no longer necessary and in fact, it is deemed very burdensome to do so. With the introduction of software packages to see to these tasks, business owners are provided with convenient accounting software to record transactions and manage the finances of their businesses easily. In addition, businesses can easily pull reports to gauge the growth of the business.

The core of a business is its customers, and managing customer information is thus vital to the success of a business. Customer relationship software is a must-have for businesses to retain their customer base as it can track customer purchase behavior, the profiling of clientele and also assists in regular engagements with them. There are a number of different software packages available for businesses, but the use of these packages is essential for businesses to run efficiently.

Security

Theft is rife within businesses and proper precautions need to be taken to ensure that no financial losses are sustained as a result. One surefire way to curb theft is the presence of closed circuit cameras. As much as it can help identify perpetrators in the event of theft, it can also act as a deterrent for burglars who are looking to pocket merchandise or equipment. Other deterrents such as alarm systems, security gates and window protection also add to the overall security of a business.

If a business sees a large amount of foot traffic, the installation of turnstiles also adds an element of safety as it gives customers one way to enter and exit. This limits the chances of someone entering and exiting the store without paying as they will need to exit at a designated point. Moreover, intelligent turnstiles can assist the business owner with important customer information through tracking the amount of people who enter the business. For example, if a business sees a certain amount of traffic into the business, but this traffic doesn’t convert into sales, there is likely to be a problem with the price of goods or how appealing the merchandise is to customers. By knowing this information, a business owner can easily adapt his or her strategy to convert these mere feet into once-off or repeat customers.

A website

A website for a small business is essential. However, the development of a website alone is not enough – it needs to be found by those who are looking for it. For this reason, content on the website needs to be optimized for search engines and also be free from any vagueness.  By its very nature, a website exposes a business to prospective customers like no other channel or platform would. It gives visitors an indication of what the business offers and where to find the business. This mechanism, if used properly, can be a major driver for sales and can serve as a means for growth too.

The mistake most small business owners make is to create a website and leave it unchanged forever. A website needs to be updated regularly so that it can be more appealing to its viewers, but more importantly, so that it can rank better when searched for in Google. Lastly, a website should be seen as the windows to a business, if it is covered and the contents of the store is not visible, people are less likely to enter and make a purchase. Should it be clear, with the contents of the store visible, it is more appealing to passersby and would probably result in a sale of some kind.