No organization is immune to identity theft and business fraud risks. In the past, only large corporations were targeted by criminals. Now, small businesses and “mom and pop” stores are having their personal and financial information stolen at an alarming clip. Here are five ways to gain an upper hand on identity theft and business fraud risks in your small business.
1. Make a Retention Policy and Follow It
Not knowing what information you have and how long you should keep it is risky business. When taking inventory of your documents and files, establish retention and final disposition time frames. Consult with your attorney first to verify your company’s legal and compliance obligations.
2. Back Up Your Data
Small businesses are increasingly being targeted with malware attacks. Ransomware is a form of malware that steals sensitive personal information and business data and encrypts it until payment is provided to the hacker. Thousands of dollars may have to be coughed up before you gain back control of your data. Always back up your data for seamless, uninterrupted access to your information.
Depending on your IT infrastructure and capabilities, you have two backup options:
- Electronic vaulting
- Offline backup
Electronic vaulting offers automated backup to the cloud by a data protection partner. Offline backup is performed internally on your local server. When using an offline backup strategy, take advantage of a backup rotation service to ensure your backup media is routinely and securely transferred offsite to a media storage vault for protection from theft and natural disasters. Ensure a strict chain of custody process is followed at all times during the media rotation process.
3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
You may have employees who work remotely. Encourage them to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. While convenient, Wi-Fi networks are havens for cyber criminals. Offer a secure virtual private network (VPN) to allow your staff secure, remote working capabilities.
4. Discard Sensitive Information the Correct Way
One of the most effective ways to prevent identity theft and business fraud is by establishing a secure document disposal program. In a busy office, it’s faster and easier to toss a document in the trash than it is to shred it with an office shredder.
Outsourcing your document disposal to a professional shredding and destruction company prevents this from happening. Security containers are placed in your office, eliminating office shredder use. Then, your employees can drop files in the containers in a matter of seconds. On a schedule you choose, your documents are collected and destroyed either on-site at your facility or off-site at a secure shredding plant.
5. Invest in Your People
In order for every employee in your small business to be responsible for preventing identity theft and business fraud, they need the right tools. Consider a company-wide training program to help your staff recognize security risks and implement best practices. Remember, information security training never stops, so provide your employees with ongoing, training opportunities.
You can’t ask for five easier or more effective ways to protect your small business from identity theft and fraud!
Records Management Center offers records and information management services for businesses throughout Augusta, Evans, Thomson, and Martinez, GA, and Aiken, SC and the Central Savannah River Area. For more information, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.