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In recent years, online news media have been awash with reports about the worrisome spate of threats to business data from cybercrime. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, CSO reported the most significant data breaches in this century, and corporations that were on the receiving end were huge — the likes of Yahoo, Equifax, Home Depot, Target, among many others. This development underscores a fundamental fact: To protect your business data, more measures and checks need to be put in place.
And, it seems the issue of cybercrime will keep growing. In a roundup of statistics compiled by CSO, it was forecast that costs accrued from cybercrime damage will amount to $6 trillion yearly by the year 2021. Consequently, companies are anticipated to incur expenses, which are more than $1 trillion, within the period 2017–21 while trying to combat the menace.
Still, in spite of this huge investment, the same report estimates damages done by global ransomware will surpass $5 billion in value in just 2017. In light of these facts and figures, you should leave no stone unturned to protect your business data when working from home.
While working from home comes with a lot of perks and benefits, it also demands great responsibility. You usually have to work with clients whose personal data is at your disposal, and if this vital information becomes compromised, it can have devastating effects on your small business. Thus, online security isn’t an issue to be handled with levity. With that in mind, here are ways to protect your business data when you are working from home:
Consider Using Email Encryption and Security Service
With email encryption, you can rest assured that your emails, along with the vital business data in them, will only be accessed and read by intended recipients. Experts say hackers are designing more sophisticated attacks; however, as we noticed with the ransom threat experienced in 2017 by HBO, they are equally fine-tuning their business model in a bid to lay their hands, stealthily, on corporate data that has even more value in comparison with customer information.
As a freelancer who operates from home, you need to incorporate email encryption for protecting your business information. Modern email encryption services are not only easy to use but also quite straightforward to integrate seamlessly into popularly used email platforms.
What an email encryption solution does is scan for suspicious emails, continually, and prevents them from getting into your inbox. This service helps to ensure that you don’t inadvertently open and click anything that is potentially harmful. This is one way you can keep your business information safe from cyber threats.
Ensure You Stay Connected To VPN
For starters, what is a VPN (virtual private network)? It is a service which functions as a middle-man between you and the remaining parts of the Internet. The system helps hide your real location, allowing you to unblock any websites you choose.
VPNs are also used for encrypting internet traffic that flows between you and the remaining parts of the net, ensuring that you anonymously surf the web. Staying connected to a VPN as you work from home makes it virtually impossible for your business information ever to face cyber attacks. (As you scour the web for the best VPN service for your business, do keep in mind that some virtual private networks are better suited for particular regions/countries.)
Opt for Secure Website for Online Payments
To ensure that your client data stays safe from prying eyes of hackers, or from criminal intent of online bilkers, apart from relying on robust software solutions, you need to use a secure website to either send or receive online payments. For all kinds of online transactions, popular platforms such as PayPal, Payoneer, and Skrill come highly recommended in this regard.
These services — all of them with secure websites — help you add a button to your site, which makes it extremely easy for your clients to send payments in a jiffy, without stewing over the possibility of being defrauded.
Further, PayPal lets you file a dispute over any transactions that crop up on your summary. If you suspect something is shady, you can refund any payment made or create a dispute for your payments sent. As secured sites are encrypted, naturally, this shows they are a solid option for you and your clients, mainly since your customer is most likely not making use of a VPN and they might even be sending payment via their smartphone.
Change Passwords Routinely
Ensure that your passwords are changed regularly, and check them to confirm they are rated strong. To set a strong password, you will pick uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and include symbols when possible. Also, your passwords should not be shorter than 8 characters.
What type of information should not be used in setting your password? Ensure that your passwords don’t contain personal information, like your name, birth date, address, business name, and so on. If you create passwords that can be easily identified, your data safety is at risk.
Create Backups for Critical Business Data
If you’re yet to add cloud storage as a back-up location for your data, it is time you did that. When a computer or server faces attacks from hackers, it’s very possible that your files have been compromised, and you might have to install your systems again with a view of maintaining the integrity of the device. If you’ve not backed up vital data, you may never be able to recover it.
You can still take a step further: Make sure your data is equally backed up on one or two external (physical) storage media, like a USB flash drive or external hard drive. This strategy is handy in fighting ransomware. With your files backed up on both the cloud and physical storage devices, you can keep your business data safe from ransomware thieves, from hackers.
Apart from the strategies mentioned above, you can also protect your business data by purchasing identity theft protection solutions. Ideal for small businesses with a limited budget, these services typically provide customized cybersecurity solutions to help protect the reputation of your business, your privacy, credit cards, and so on. Some great services to use are ESET, iDefend Business, Comodo, among others.
In a Nutshell
In sum, adopting the strategies highlighted above can help keep your business information safe and secure from cyber threats and fraud. Also, they will help you create a great home-based business in which clients can be confident.