If there is one thing most small businesses can agree on, it is that time equals money. Small business owners are often in the position of wearing many different hats throughout their day. This is the nature of the small business and while expected, is not always the best way to distribute one’s time. In order for a small business to be successful and remain competitive in an industry, the owner must be able to designate time to focus on growing and building the business. In many cases small businesses fail as a result of being unable to handle emergencies or other situations that are simply beyond the control and expertise of the owner. Leveraging managed IT services can help. Read more
We maintain our computers similarly to how we maintain our own health – rarely do we take the time to learn about preventing health complications, and instead work to repair our health once we’ve become ill! We take care of our computers the same way, in that we rarely think about the safety or well-being of our data until something happens that leads to data loss or corruption. And when that does happen, how do you recover your lost computer files? Read more
How many times have you purchased new software or hardware, and avoided the help menu or user manual? Experts reason that about 90 percent of all features included with software go unused! Much of this comes down to lack of training for individuals using the technology – they use what they know and need most, and avoid anything that would require study or practice to implement. It’s human nature to take the path of least resistance, but with a little motivation you could better benefit from the money spent on technology for your business. Read more
The days of keeping confidential business information locked in a metal filing cabinet are gone. Most businesses have most everything, from personnel files to client and financial information, stored on their personal computers or computer network. What happens when your company runs out of storage space? Or, worse yet, what if your network is attacked by a virus, your equipment stolen, or your server is damaged by a flood? Would you be able to quickly recover all of your important information and keep your company running smoothly? Online data storage services are the answer. Read more
Most small business owners handle all aspects of their businesses, including but not limited to, acting as the head of every business services department, often filling production and administrative roles as well. This will work for as long as a small business is in lean mode; without employees. When the business grows and you must start hiring staff, would you prefer to use your business-building time on handling technology issues and maintenance or growing your business – shoring up sales and marketing efforts, focusing on providing excellent levels of customer service, and making connections in your community? Unless you are an Information Technology Service Provider yourself, chances are your time will be much better spent on the latter – so why not outsource to an external IT Service Provider? Read more
It’s Monday morning and one of your employees notifies you that they lost their laptop at a Starbucks over the weekend, apologizing profusely. Aside from the cost and inconvenience of buying a new laptop, could you be on the hook for bigger costs, and should you notify all your clients? Maybe, depending on where you live and what type of data you had stored on that laptop.
An Emerging Trend In Business Law
Since companies are storing more and more data on their employees and clients, most states are starting to aggressively enforce data breach and security laws that set out the responsibilities for businesses capturing and storing personal data. What do most states consider confidential or sensitive data? Definitely medical and financial records such as credit card numbers, credit scores and bank account numbers, but also addresses and phone numbers, social security numbers, birthdays and in some cases purchase history—information that almost every single company normally keeps on their clients.
“We Did Our Best” Is No Longer An Acceptable Answer
With millions of cyber criminals working daily to hack systems, and with employees accessing more and more confidential client data, there is no known way to absolutely, positively guarantee you won’t have a data breach. However, your efforts to put in place good, solid best practices in security will go a long way to help you avoid hefty fines. Here are some basic things to look at to avoid being labeled irresponsible:
- Managing access. Who can access the confidential information you store in your business? Is this information easily accessible by everyone in your company? What is your policy about taking data out of the office on mobile devices?
- IT security and passwords. The more sensitive the data, the higher the level of security you need to keep on it. Are your passwords easy to crack? Is the data encrypted? Secured behind a strong firewall? If not, why?
- Training. One of the biggest causes for data breaches is the human element: employees who accidentally download viruses and malware that allow hackers easy access. Do you have a data security policy? A password policy? Do you have training to help employees understand how to use e-mail and the Internet responsibly?
- Physical security. It’s becoming more common for thieves to break into offices and steal servers, laptops and other digital devices. Additionally, paper contracts and other physical documents containing sensitive information should be locked up or scanned and encrypted.
The bottom line is this: Data security is something that EVERY business is now responsible for, and not addressing this important issue has consequences that go beyond the legal aspect; it can seriously harm your reputation with clients. So be smart about this. Talk to your attorney about your legal responsibility.