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Business Safety through IT Systems and Customer Information

The safety of a business relies on several factors. But most importantly, safe IT systems and customer information can either make or break a business. Frank Johnson discusses these two aspects in details to evaluate how they are integral to business safe

Every business aspires to reach great heights. But only a few can survive the rat race and tower over the others. There are several factors that need to be ensured to keep the growth accelerated and the profits rolling in. One of these aspects is ‘business safety’. In this highly transient marketplace where the fates of numerous countries get made and broken every day, its is this aspect of ‘business safety’ that keeps an organization going strong, puling customers and making money.

Business safety per se is dependent on numerous factors. However, in this write-up we will discuss:

  • Safe IT Systems
  • Safe Customer Information

IT Systems and business safety
Any organization, whether small or large, needs to protect its systems from threats such as:

  • Data loss
  • Hacking
  • Virus attack
  • Use of your IP addresses to download illegal data and information
  • Stolen identity
  • Unforeseen disasters such as fire, accidents, etc.  

These issues may not only mar your reputation is the market but also result in big financial loss. In extreme cases, these may also hold you responsible for stealing personal data under the Data Protection Act and mark the end of your professional career and aspirations. Trouble shooting mat nit seem handy in these circumstances. But thankfully, with foresight and strategy, a lot can be done to nip the problem in the bud, and if it does arise, to be prepared to deal with it. Let us take a look at a few tips that may help you march a step further in ensuring business safety.

Assessing risks: Start by assessing the typical IT risks that your business is facing or may face. Then formulate IT strategies to troubleshoot these risks. Pay special attention to IT risks such as employees using the internet callously, hackers as well as hardware damage, loss and/or theft.

Firewall: A firewall is typically the first line of protection from dangers such as hackers. Have software to protect your IT systems against virus attacks and remove all files, documents and spyware that can damage your data. Purchase anti-virus and anti-spyware software from renowned companies and ensure that they provide frequent updates and run full system scans every now and then.

Updating security basics: Keep a few IT security basics in mind to ensure business safety. Beware email attachments from unknown senders and do not visit links with dubious origins. Download software from reputed and reliable sites. Be alert to phishing. Do not access confidential information on public platforms such as social networking sites.  Use open Zip source software to send an email containing important data to a client. This will help you password protect your document and make sure only the intended recipient opens the mail.

Passwords: Change passwords frequently and ensure that your staff only has access to the systems it requires.

IT training for the staff: In order to ensure complete business safety, it is important to train your staff from time to time on IT best practices in order to leverage the IT tools and techniques, reduce business downtime and improve productivity. Some common mistakes such as plugging-in their mobile devices into the system without getting the device scanned for virus need to be corrected. You should also have a control on what your staff downloads from the Internet and whether the files should be scanned before the download begins or not.

These small but very effective IT security tips and best practices will help you maintain the safety of your business,

Customer information and business safety
Doing business with a client involves handling critical client information such as payment accounts, bank details, system information and others. In order to maintain your own business safety, it is imperative to protect client information as if it were your very own. In the absence of a secure system in place, your clients may trust your credibility. Here are a few steps that will help you keep your customers' information safe and ensure your very own business safety:

Identify the client information you need to protect: You must know where all critical data belonging to your client is located and how it should be protected. It is a best practice to have the legal as well as the technical information of the data you need to protect. In case a security or data breach occurs, you will be ready with a well charted out plan to inform those who can be affected.

Be in charge of access to documents: Surely there would be some client information that should not be made available to everyone in your organization. Controlling access to client information, especially to paper document reduces the chances of data breach and/or misuse either by your employees or competitors. Similarly, all online records pertaining to your clients need to be secured, especially if you use a website to process sales.

Create a secure back up of records: Go a step further than simply backing up your systems data on a hard drive. Keep the hard drive off site and limit access to it. Should you want, you can employ modern back up solutions that comprise encryption and security aspects to automate the back up data too. Check the level of security while using online cloud storage while backing up your client’s data.

Create a template for ‘breach response’: whether you own a small business or a large one, fact is, breaches do happen once in a while. However, how you handle the breach primarily affects your customer relationship management (CRM) skills and the future of your relationship with the client. Maintain a template to handle such sticky situations so that you do not miss out on important points at the time of crisis. You may also enlist points on how you can compensate for the mishandling of the information or provide added value instead to win back your client’s trust.

Conclusion:IT risks and client information management issues do not crop up with a notice. And therefore, it becomes imperative to save your business from being vulnerable to such sudden threats.  Take a regular back-up of all the files and data on your system and also maintain an off-site depository. Last but not the least, update your OS regularly. Download the latest ‘patches’ to run your systems at maximum efficiency and ensure that your customers’ information and details are not being mishandled. These steps will take you a long way in ensuring business safety. 

About the author:This article by Frank Johnson is the first from his series on ‘Business Safety’.  Frank is a regular editorial contributor on technology products, services and best practices that help small to mid size businesses.  To know more about Business Safety techniques and strategies, you may interact with him here

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