Keep your small business secure during the busy holiday season and year round with these business security tips
There’s no better time to be on the ball about business security than the holiday season. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), over 1 million identity theft complaints have been registered in recent years. In fact, the average company loses up to 5% of its revenue to fraud annually.
With approximately 400 million entrepreneurs worldwide, small businesses that are affected by fraud can end up taking a bigger blow than larger companies because they don’t have as many resources to recover. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can help to keep your business safe and secure during the holidays when identity theft is at a seasonal high.
What are fraudsters looking for?
Thieves want financial and personal information like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and medical information. Business identity thieves focus on stealing your company’s credentials and other business identifiers like your federal tax employer identification number.
This key information is what lets thieves manipulate or falsify state business filings, impersonate your business, or impersonate your customers. Thieves are capable of opening lines of credit or even applying for loans under your company name.
How can I protect my business from fraud?
Identity theft has hit record highs in both 2017 and 2018. And the latest data on ID crimes have found that thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Just last year, up to 16.7 million Americans fell victim to identity theft.
To help you keep your business and your customers’ information safe, here are five ways you can keep your small business secure during the holiday season.
- Keep your paperwork organized. Every year, up to four business weeks are lost waiting on misfiled, mislabeled, or untracked documents. If your paperwork isn’t organized in your office, it’s all too easy to lose important documents that contain vital information. Consider using an electronic document system to better manage your paperwork. Keep sensitive documents locked away at the end of the day.
- Establish an email security policy. Thieves like to operate through phishing emails and hacking. Some emails may sound official or threatening and often contain graphics that have been stolen from the company. Thieves might even hack into an executive’s email and send fake emails to the finance department. By establishing an email security policy, you can keep identity thieves from taking advantage of intimidated or confused employees.
- Encourage rental devices during business travel. If your employees will be traveling for business during the holiday season, make sure they’re using rental devices instead of personal equipment. This limits the amount of data that’s at risk if your employee’s phone, laptop, or tablet is lost or stolen.
- Have employees use rental cars through the company during business travel. There were 38 new car models offered in the U.S. automotive market in 2017 alone and many new rental vehicles allow you to connect your phone to the car. Using both rental devices and rental vehicles helps to limit data risks whether your employee is traveling to California, which had up to 268 million tourists in 2016, or Alaska, which had over 1 million tourists between May and September that same year.
- Be savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots. Pop-up shops are booming, especially among small businesses. In fact, the current U.S. market value for pop-up shops is $50 billion. However, if your business routinely moves around the city, it’s important to be savvy about which Wi-Fi connections your business is connected to. Adjust your business’ security settings so that your company devices limit who can access your tech. Make sure that you don’t use the Wi-Fi of other businesses around you or public Wi-Fi. These connections could compromise your data.
With ID crimes and fraud kicking up during the holiday season, it’s more important than ever to keep your small business secure. By following the tips above and staying proactive with your online and offline security systems, you can keep your business safe from fraud this season.
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