~by Kara Masterson~
Stealing and selling confidential business information has become a lucrative trade. Regardless of the size or nature of your company, you can expect someone to try to get the information you have. That is why it is essential for you to act now to safeguard your customer information and trade secrets as well as your financial and payroll details so that you can avoid a damaged reputation and loss of your business.
The following 5 tips will help you get started.
1. Improve Network Security
Information Technology has improved the efficiency of business, but it has also created vulnerabilities that leave companies open to data theft. That is why it is a good idea to implement an organizational information security policy that includes the use of strong passwords, user-level access controls and firewalls to protect your resources. However, despite your best efforts, you might discover that you need help with your network security. Services such as Stealthbits can enhance your safety by using advanced technology to detect intrusion and quickly shut down compromised accounts.
Some firms become so obsessed with the security of their digital assets that they forget about physical threats to their information. It is important that you get control over your physical documents by storing them in locked filing cabinets and discarding them using a shredder rather than a trash can. You can also use physical access controls to restrict access to confidential information for employees who need it to do their work. If you routinely have clients or vendors visiting in your office, prevent snooping by establishing strict rules that limit the open display of confidential information on desktops and tables. Overheard meetings and phone conversations can also compromise sensitive information, so make sure they occur only in secure locations.
3. Utilize Employee Training
Many employees might not have a conscious awareness of the damages that can occur as a result of carelessly handling virtual and physical information. Annual training for your existing employees and specialized training for new workers will make your team a potent defensive front line for your firm.
4. Implement Sensible Policies
Employees with access to your business information can take it with them to their next employer who can use it to steal your customers and destroy your competitive edge. Make sure all your employees have valid signed confidentiality, non-disclosure and non-compete agreements in place, and that they understand your willingness to act vigorously against infringements.
5. Smart Customer Service
Anyone can call into your company acting as a client or vendor and gain access to confidential information. Make sure to have your staff take reasonable precautions to verify the identities of callers and email correspondents so they don’t inadvertently put valuable information into the wrong hands.
Overall, you should realize that keeping company information confidential requires careful planning and a deliberate effort. The above tips should help you start building a secure work environment where sensitive information stays safe.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.