When it comes to IT most small business owners just want it to work. They don’t need or want to know the detail and happily outsource this side of things to someone else.
That’s great. I’m always supportive of outsourcing complex tasks! As the business owner, however, it is your responsibility to understand how Information Technology can affect your livelihood if not maintained correctly. I don’t mean to be alarmist but you could be one click away from losing your business.
What can you do to combat this?
Simply complete these three simple tasks on a regular basis and you’ll reduce your risk (and save some outsourcing dollars while you’re there).
1. Complete those auto-updates
You know the ones, the annoying updates that pop up when you’re in the middle of something that you never get around to completing. You click cancel and it goes away.
The thing is these updates are REALLY important. Not only to the security of your software but also how well your software performs. Spend a few minutes updating and you’ll not only patch up those security loopholes the manufacturer has found, but, as bugs will be fixed and new software features rolled out, you’ll also be more productive.
So what should you update?
Software – this includes installed software such as MS Word and cloud-based installed software such as Evernote.
Website version and plugin updates
Any software updates for hardware connected to your IT functions
2. Back up, back up, back up
Seriously, I cannot say this enough. Backup your data people.
I am still meeting business owners who have their livelihood on their laptop – WITH NO BACKUP! I cannot believe we are in 2016 and this is still happening. I don’t need to explain the effect on your business if you lose all that data.
Hard Drive data: Get some auto backup software, and either plug in a hard drive or send it to the cloud. Set the frequency (personally I recommend daily) and forget about it.
Website data: Same goes for your website. Ensure you backup your site daily and that this is easily accessible (most web hosts will complete this for you). If you (the business owners) make sure this is happening, you’ll know exactly how frequently it’s completed and how you can access that backup if it’s needed.
3. Update your passwords
One of the biggest frustrations with small business owners I meet is trying to remember their passwords. I get it. We are living in a world where we need a password for everything. The result? Most business owners have one or two passwords for everything, and have not changed those passwords in the past five years! Now I’m no cyber security expert but to me, that screams RISK.
The fact is, even the smallest business owner is now at risk from cyber attack. Aside from the tips above, frequently updating your passwords, and using strong passwords (a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols) will significantly reduce your risk.
If (like most people) the thought of changing and remembering all your passwords sends your head into a spin, look at the option of using password vault software. This online software allows you to save all your different passwords, generate highly secure passwords and securely share your passwords with others. Now, obviously, hosting all your passwords online comes with its own risk of hacking. But my feeling is that as long as you don’t save passwords related to financial accounts online, it is the better option than having the same password for everything.
So there you go. Three very simple things that you (yes YOU!) can do to keep your business safe, secure and protected. Three simple things that will potentially save you a huge amount of time, money and stress in the future. Not to mention your livelihood!
This article first appeared in Flying Solo.