Small Businesses Face Large Problems with Identity Theft

Identify theft allows someone to pretend to be you until they’re caught- they could get in touch with your customers, tie up your bank accounts and credit lines, and otherwise ruin your company’s reputation and credibility. In some cases your company could be held liable for damages.

Your Physical Assets at Risk

You wouldn’t leave your front door wide open when you leave the house. But many small business owners do just that with their physical premises. Are there areas in your company where people can just wander in and look around? Do employees leave important documents sitting out on their desks? Could someone with bad intentions walk into your office unnoticed and take these documents? It happens more than we would like to admit.

File cabinets should be locked. Boxes of documents should be in storage and not just left stacked in the corner of the office. Lock the office doors when unoccupied. Offices without doors should have sensitive material locked in desk drawers. Alarm systems are still a deterrent to people who want to enter your business and look for files to take. Even the most basic alarm system will cause someone to stop and think before they break into your facilities. Do you shred paper files that you no longer need? The only paper files that should be out in the open are those that are currently being used. They should otherwise be locked away. If there is a digital version of the paper document, get rid of the paper! This discussion applies not only to documents but to CDs, DVDs, video tapes, audio tapes, and any other media on which your company data may be stored with.

Your Digital Assets at Risk

Small businesses should be aware of the risk factors of leaving information stored on computers. A recent report found millions of passwords inadvertently leaked from LinkedIn- one of the most professional networks that many businesses use.

Your digital data doesn’t all reside back in the company infrastructure. Unlike physical data, digital data theft could be thousands of sensitive customer records at a time- passwords, account information, and login information are prevalent for identity theft.

Preventing Data Theft by Implementing Some Simple Company Policies:

  • Change passwords frequently- on internal systems and any other applications you access for company use. Social networks, professional networks, and vendor applications are all places that have information and should have passwords changed regularly.
  • Be smart about the passwords you use. Don’t use the same password for all accounts- create unrecognizable passwords. Don’t use your birthday, pet name, or anniversary as a password. These are favorites of hackers who want to steal information.
  • Establish some rigid policies on what is allowed to come into the company digitally- many systems have been broken into because a staff member has clicked on a link or attachment in an email received from outside of the company.
  • Work with a company like Lifelock to determine what digital information is at risk and how to safeguard it from identity theft.

Physical data theft continues to be a problem. Digital data and identify theft is increasing. A few simple actions to protect your assets will save you from many problems should your company information be compromised.

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