As per the title, do you even know? Really? As a real estate agent and small business owner, you might not think that you are at risk of cyber crime, but often, small companies are the easiest targets for criminals. Here are some tips for protecting your clients and yourself from fraud and ID theft.
Assess Your Personal Risk
The first step here is to assess your personal risk of becoming a victim of these things. Once you have taken a look at your own risk, you should look at the data your company has and decide how valuable it might be to a cybercriminal.
- Are you using free antivirus?
- Do you have a credit freeze?
- Do you use a VPN?
- Are your passwords weak and mostly the same?
If you are unsure of the answers above then your small business data is significantly at risk.
Keep Your Technology Updated
You also should make sure that all of your software is updated to the latest versions. Do you constantly shut down popups requesting an update? Are you unsure what version of your operating system you have?
Get New Technology, if Needed
Making an investment into new technology is also a good idea. Is your hardware 5+ years old? Do you know the status of things like antivirus software, firewalls, encrypted
backups, and more? It really only takes a couple of hundreds of dollars to make sure all data is safe.
Partner with a Cybersecurity Pro
Protecting your business isn’t easy, so you might want to consider working with a professional. These people will help you to assess any areas of vulnerability, and then suggest things to do to make the data safer.
Use an EIN
While a company that is incorporated must use an EIN, or employer identification number, small business owners and freelancers can operate as a sole proprietor. However, this means they use their Social Security number as the identification of the business, too. So, it is usually a good idea for these people to get an EIN as it helps to protect the business owner.
Secure Your Files
You should also make sure to secure both your online and offline files. Everything with sensitive information, such as tax returns or bank statements, should be secured via two step authentication, encryption and password protection. You can use software to secure your online files, and for offline files, you can keep the information secure in lock boxes or fire retardant safe.
Create Good Internal Controls
Any business with employees should pay attention to security. You should use unique passwords or consider restricting access to certain documents. If you have a retail business, you should make sure to have security cameras.
Talk to Vendors About Information Practices
You should also talk to your vendors about what type of information practices they employ. Otherwise, you could be putting your sensitive information in the hands of a company that will not protect it.
Stop Hacking Before It Starts
If you allow your employees to bring in their own devices, you could be introducing risks to your business. These devices must be password protected, for instance. If you use mobile payment solutions, like PayPal and Square, you could also have other risks. Make sure that any mobile payment system you use offers encryption.
Check Statements Regularly
Finally, make sure that you are keeping an eye on your accounts, and consider things like credit monitoring. There are also the major credit bureaus that offer free alerts when information about your business changes. On top of this, you should take a look at your insurance policies to see if you have any type of coverage related to data breaches. If you don’t, you might want to consider adding it.
Become CSI Protect Certified
If any or all of the above has left you empowered, meaning you feel you have a grip on it all, good for you. If the above was a bit overwhelming, confusing and made you feel like you have a LOT of work to do, then you need to become CSI Protect Certified. That means as a small business owner you become fully versed in Cyber Social and Identity Protection. CSI Protection Certified Agents recognize risk and know how to protect their information, their business data and their clients security.
Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.