Running a business from your own home may sound like a dream come true for most employees. Yet those who actually attempt it know that it is easier said than done. While the benefits are immense, like setting your own pace and being in complete control of your working environment, there are several surprising issues that you need to take care of. Cybersecurity practices for home-based businesses that handle personal data are on top of the list.
The importance of data for home-based businesses
Working from home is becoming an increasingly popular choice across the globe. In the US alone, 69% of entrepreneurs start their business at their own home. While 73% of small business owners identify as male and 25% as female, a whopping 60% fall within the 40-59 age range. For most people, starting their own small business is associated with wanting to be their own boss, as 26% of respondents state, or pursuing their passion, for 23% – motives that are especially strong for those looking to run a home-based company. While 82% of successful entrepreneurs state that they were convinced they had what it takes in terms of qualifications and experience to run their business, sometimes niche issues – like information security – might elude us.
Data forms the lifeblood of companies of all types and sizes. Even home-based companies gather personal data related to customers, vendors, external partners, sales, and their own performance. This large volume of data can be easily targeted by hackers looking for victims, who might also get unauthorized access to your own family’s data in their malicious efforts, so coming up with a plan to ensure data loss prevention is necessary for every home-based entrepreneur. A security strategy that will allow your company to detect and prevent breaches is important in order to protect sensitive data, as well as to comply with regulatory requirements like those included in privacy and personal data protection legislation. It is not only personally identifiable information that hackers are after; many home-based startups that focus on novel concepts or applications are developing intellectual property that is of particular value for cybercriminals. Hackers might also target your own personal or family data in an effort to extort you.
Investing in cybersecurity
Threats to critical data can come from various sources, including internal and external ones. Hackers are constantly developing sophisticated attack vectors, such as malware and phishing scams, in order to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. But, sometimes,
The highest number of risks to your data comes from your digital presence. Companies nowadays are using the internet for a wide range of purposes, as faster internet connections and technological developments like the Internet of Things and cloud computing have opened up new possibilities. US internet penetration rate has risen from 46.1% in 2009 to almost 70% in 2018, while, in Europe, the same figure has gone from 59.8% in 2009 to a staggering 79.6% in 2018 and Asia Pacific has experienced immense growth, from 18.9% in 2009 to 47% in 2018. As more and more businesses have an online presence, like running an e-shop or hosting data and applications on the cloud, they must also turn to a tailored solution to protect the data they process.
Choose the right data protection tools
Installing proper anti-virus and antimalware software will take care of most low-level attacks, as long as you remember to keep them updated regularly to include new threats. The same goes for the operating system you are using. Whether you are a Windows, Apple or Linux enthusiast, every OS developer team will frequently release new editions and patches to fix bugs and vulnerabilities found in their systems, so keeping an eye out to download and install the latest updates is strongly encouraged. For most companies, installing firewalls on every device used, including web application firewalls for applications hosted on-premises and on the cloud, can greatly help reduce the risk of attackers piercing through. Finally, when your home-based company is handling several online accounts, then coming up with strong passwords and changing them often is crucial.
Since it is hard to remember every password used – much less when it comes to hard to crack sequences – then turning to a password manager can be a good solution. Password managers come up with complex passwords, take care of automated log-ins, and let you update them quite often. Most providers also offer group plans to host multiple employee accounts and easily manage access privileges. But when it comes to particularly sensitive data, like healthcare information, extra measures might come in handy. Data encryption, which renders data impossible for outsiders to read, unless they gain access to the encryption key, is necessary for most businesses.
Running your own business from home is tremendously satisfying but can also uncover data protection risks you did not expect. Only by maintaining a high level of cybersecurity can you build a brand that customers can trust and keep coming back to.
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