It seems like only yesterday, but let’s be real here: March, Friday the 13th, was the last normal day the United States had, but here we are now. As 2020 (finally and not soon enough) comes to a close, the most wonderful time of the year is fast approaching. People are going to be shopping, stringing lights, and taking time for their families — and that means your employees as well.
As you transition from normal business hours to special holiday hours, think about security during the odd times that nobody will be around. Given that wintertime is the darkest season of them all, and that your business office will be left unattended for longer periods of time, it’s not at all crazy to imagine an attempted break-in during the holiday season. Instead of rolling the dice and leaving things up to Fate, take your company’s security this holiday season into your own hands. 2020 started weird enough. Don’t let it end weird too.
Ensure That Your Computer Systems Are Protected
Did you know that small businesses suffer up to 43% of the cyber attacks in the country? Avoid falling into that statistic by double-checking your computer systems. Remember, electronic security is every bit as important as on-premises security. Don’t skimp out on this step just because you’re eager to sample some of Great Auntie Pamela’s pumpkin pie and put on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
If you have an IT department, then they are likely already on the way to getting your systems ready for the season. IT crews usually go through specialty training, certifications, and schooling to prepare them for the working world, so chances are that you won’t need to dictate to them what they should or should not be doing.
If you happen to be the entire IT department, then bravo to you! Here are a few tips for ensuring cybersecurity this year.
Allow full updates for your operating system. Windows, Mac, Linux, or whatever operating system you most prefer, it is so important that you allow automatic updates, or manually install them on your own. Updates are imperative for the health of your computers: They patch any security holes that might have gone otherwise unnoticed, they help applications and programs to run more smoothly, and are just overall good for your PC. Consider it a bit like giving your computer its daily multivitamin to boost its immune system.
Encrypt all financial information. Paystubs, checking accounts, social security numbers, and a lot of personal/employee/client data are more than likely stored in your computer system somewhere. Regardless of whose information it is, it all needs to be protected. Don’t let some cyberbully steal your financial information by ensuring it’s super-secure. Look into encryption software like Steganos Safe and AxCrypt Premium to help you zip up your most sensitive data. This kind of software can range in price (expect to pay at least $30, but likely much more), but think about what your security is worth. Do you really want to spend the estimated $200,000 recovering from a cyber attack?
Don’t assume that remote work alleviates a security problem. Even though it might seem holly jolly that your workers can do their job remotely, in truth, this could present an even greater risk to your cybersecurity. Although most cloud-based programs have pretty tight security measures in place, hackers can still find ways to break into them. That encryption software we just talked about is a great way for you and your remote workers to share personal and protected data by adding that extra layer of security.
The way of the world is mostly online now, and we all understand that even the most secure programs can be cracked. Double down and take the extra security precautions to keep your company secure this season.
Backup All Data
Similar to ensuring that your computer systems are secure, you should also make sure that you backup all of your data before disappearing to Mom and Dad’s (or wherever) for the holidays. This means a full system backup, including but not limited to:
- Cameras and security alarms. If you’re not going to be around to view security footage on the daily, you can at least put your mind at ease knowing that there are backup versions of your security camera footage. This can save your bacon later on if you need to report a break-in or theft of some kind.
- All of your computer software. Files, pictures, videos, documents — whatever you would be lost without, you need to back up in more than one location. Cloud computing is popular for a reason: It is handy and it works. You can look into larger data plans with programs like CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box and Dropbox, but there are several free options that you might not have known you had access to, like Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive.
Backups are good for more than just having extra copies — they reassure you that even in an emergency, you know that your files are safe on the cloud. Additionally, cloud-based programs are usually very easy to organize and share with other people, and when you allow syncing, you can access your files from anywhere. This makes it even easier for on-demand access if there is an emergency of some kind.
Winterize the Building
This doesn’t necessarily mean caulk the windows and doors to prevent a draft (although we recommend doing that as well), but rather winterize it in the sense that, if it was empty for two full weeks, is it secure? Here are a couple of examples of what we mean by this:
- Don’t discount how important a generator can be in security situations. A building without electricity is highly insecure, especially if it depends on an alarm or camera system to keep thieves at bay. A generator is an awesome tool for keeping your business’s physical and cybersecurity safe and sound, even if nobody is nearby to keep an eye on it.
- Look for a high-quality uninterruptable power supply, or UPS. These gadgets can add up, but they are highly valuable in that they provide emergency power to your computer systems in case of a power outage. The range of time that they last will depend on how much money you spend, but generally, they tend to provide battery power for 45 minutes to an hour. They can act as a supplemental power source until the power comes back on.
- Service your HVAC system. This technically falls under building maintenance, but it’s still a way to add a layer of security. If your HVAC system is not functioning properly during a long-term absence, then frigid temperatures inside can be horribly damaging. Frost and cold weather can damage your windows, freeze your pipes, and force shut-down your electronics.
If you can think of other ways to protect your building’s power this winter, by all means, take advantage. The more that you invest in your company’s security, the better off you will be in the long-term. Share with us some of the best ways that you can winterize your building for security reasons.
Add More Security Measures to Your Facility
After reading this article, you might be starting to feel a little nervous because you don’t have as much security as you thought you did. No worries, we will help you get there. Some added security measures might make you and your staff feel a little more comfortable. The more security you add, the higher the price tag, but again, remember: What is your safety (and that of your staff) worth to you?
Check out commercial locksmith services. One idea — especially if something is nagging at you to do so — is to change all the locks in the facility with the help of commercial locksmith services. This might seem like a waste of time, a pain in the neck, but if it can save you from a break-in then it’s worth it. This is an especially useful tip if there have been reports of an employee losing their keys, or if you’ve noticed that someone has been fiddling with your door locks from the outside in. You can never be too careful.
Speak to your insurance provider. It is not weird for you to call your insurance company and ask what extra packages you should add for the season. Indeed, your provider knows the risks better than you do, so pick their brain. The advice of a professional is priceless, and you can learn more about protecting yourself and your business.
Hire a security team. Security guards help employees to feel safer during the darker hours of their shifts, and they can also help proprietors to feel better knowing that you care about their safety as well. What’s more: They can be a great deterrent for someone who is thinking about committing a crime. Who wants to get on the bad side of a big tough person who may or may not be carrying a taser?
Update your security systems. You likely already have cameras and a security system of some kind installed in your building. However, like all technology, security systems change and improve over time. Perhaps you’ve had the same system for several years. Call your security system’s customer service department and see if you qualify for any upgrades. You might also ask what kind of holiday specials are being run right now; this time of the year is a goldmine for security companies, so it’s nor unusual to find promotions during the darker months.
Keep Your Attorney on Speed Dial
Nobody wants to encounter a break-in, especially during the holiday season, but the Boy Scouts of America have the slogan to live by: Always be prepared. Even if you don’t have any issues with crime over the holidays, knowing that you have someone in your corner just in case is reassuring.
Business law lawyers exist for businesses exactly like yours. They tend to the legal needs of the small business owner, providing legal assistance when you need it most. If you didn’t know, you can also hire an internet law attorney to provide backup in case of a cyber attack. Assembling a dedicated legal team — the Dream Team, if you will — can help to keep the wolves away if things have gone wrong.
Like all things, make sure that your attorney knows what they are talking about. You are looking for someone with a valid license to practice law in your state, as well as years of experience. While it’s a kind gesture to give a rookie attorney a chance, really consider how comfortable you are hiring someone without years of experience to protect your personal security. Are those odds really in your favor? An experienced business law attorney is what you are looking for; ask around to other small businesses who they use. Don’t forget to look online and to check out reviews and testimonials as well.
While you’re roasting chestnuts over an open fire and enjoying family meals, your business should be the farthest thing from your mind. You can let yourself feel this sense of relief by being serious about company security and by prevents danger before it can happen. To really relax and enjoy the season, leave your business’s security in the best possible hands. By taking advantage of computer updates, beefing up your security options, and finding an attorney to help you out, there is so much that you can do to help yourself.
Allow everyone to let their hair down and get lost in the joy of the holidays this year. We’ve all been putting up with so much extra this year, the holidays are the only real sense of normalcy that we’ve had in quite some time. The rest of the world might be scary, wild, and crazy these days, but your business shouldn’t be one of those things. By doubling down on your company’s security, you are giving everyone a much-deserved break and letting them be worry-free this holiday season.