One of the many concerns about working from home is the issue of privacy. Is your home computer more vulnerable to security breaches than a computer at a work station of a larger company? Not necessarily, but the home business owner is still vulnerable to many risks. Here are five ways that every home-based business should protect itself.
Avoid Wi-Fi Hot Spots
Working from home requires a strong, reliable internet connection, but in order to cut costs, it can be tempting to take advantage of Wi-Fi hot spots in public places or use a neighbor’s unsecured connection instead. This can be very dangerous. According to the Federal Trade Commission, your private information can be hacked by even the most novice hackers through non-secure internet connections. If you’re serious about running a business at home, protect yourself and invest in a secure internet connection to conduct business. Make sure your connection is secured with a password that you change regularly and that your information is encrypted. If you do use hot spots, be sure to never leave your computer unattended or stay logged into the non-secure internet connection for too long.
Secure Internet Browsing
Facebook recently introduced a security setting that allows you to more securely browse their website by replacing HTTP in the address bar with HTTPS. This should be applied to other web sites you frequent that are accessed by entering a password. Furthermore, be careful where you click. You may come across ads for videos or coupons or free services, and clicking on these links can affect your computer and essentially, your whole business. Good virus protection software such as McAfee, Avast or AVG can let you know which sites are safe and which contain malware before you even click on them. Additionally, when transmitting private information over the internet, make sure the website is encrypted by looking for the closed lock icon on your browser.
Look Out for Scams
According to the Better Business Bureau, small businesses like yours are regularly targeted by confidence artists and scammers. Examples of common scams include companies offering to list you in business directories for a hefty fee; office supply scams which involve charging you for office supplies you didn’t order; and vanity award scams that require you paying upfront in order to be eligible for a business recognition that doesn’t exist. Home businesses are vulnerable to such scams, so always be vigilant of suspicious e-mails and messages, and avoid paying for anything that sounds too good to be true.
Be Mindful of Your Internet Presence
If your business is expanding exponentially, some scammers may pretend to be you or a representative of your company in order to scam customers, which can damage the reputation of your company. It is important to Google yourself regularly to see if you have any such imposters. One way to avoid this is to protect your company’s brand. You can purchase the domain of your business’ name as well as the domains of common misspellings of your company’s name so that scammers can’t. If selling a product or service, you’ll want to make sure your customers are protected, too. The Better Business Bureau offers tips on how to handle your business transactions with the utmost security.
Back Everything Up
You’ve heard it a million times before, but it cannot be stressed enough. Even though CD’s are becoming obsolete, it would still be wise to back up your data on them as well as on flash drives, external hard drives, e-mail accounts, online file storage centers, etc. There is no such thing as being too safe, and if your home business is your livelihood then it’s more than worth the effort! That being said, you must protect your backed up information the same way you’d protect your internet connection and computer. A fireproof safe is a good investment for storing hard copies of data, while storing information online will require frequent password changes.
Whether you’ve been working from home for years or are just recently making the transition into telecommuting, it’s important to get in the habit of protecting yourself and your business online. It is always better to be safe than sorry!
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