February 11 is Safer Internet Day. As the name suggests, its purpose is to “celebrate positive practices in digital media and technology and [to] grow public awareness that a safer, better internet depends on all of us.” This includes small business’s efforts to protect themselves and their customers by improving online privacy and security.
Safer Internet Day was established in Europe a decade ago by the Insafe Network. The occasion was first recognized in the United States in 2012, after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the European Commission signed a joint declaration to “make the internet safer for kids.” Insafe appointed ConnectSafely to coordinate the U.S.-based events in 2013, and the organization is leading this year’s effort as well.
For the 2014 campaign, ConnectSafely is asking supporters to share “One Good Thing” they’ve done to make the online world a little bit better. Small-business owners can participate by posting contributions in 50 words or 15- to 30-second videos. The top submissions will be shared during a Safer Internet Day event at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association in Washington, D.C.
“Every internet user and business big and small has a vital role to play in making today’s very participatory, user-driven internet great,” says Anne Collier, co-founder of ConnectSafely.org.
Internet Safety Tips for Small Businesses
Many businesses have yet to figure out how to protect themselves adequately online. A 2012 survey of 1,015 small and mid-size businesses by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Symantec shows that 73 percent understand that internet security is important to the success of their companies and their brands. Yet 59 percent of those businesses lack a contingency plan for a data breach, and 66 percent aren’t worried about cyber-threats like hacking.
Why wait? Here are a few steps you can take right now to make your small business more secure:
- Use encryption. You need to protect your customers’ information and your company’s data. Preventing unauthorized access is crucial for both. Evaluate what data is the most important to protect — and make sure it’s doubly secure.
- Install security software — and keep it up to date. Choose an app that not only scans your existing systems, but also incoming email attachments, instant messaging conversations, and other files for viruses and malware. New problems emerge constantly, so it’s essential to update your software regularly, too.
- Back up everything. Select a means of backing up all of your important data and stick with it. One that can be configured to automatically backup your files is best (because you won’t forget to run it).
- Develop a contingency plan. Sometimes, all the planning in the world can’t prevent a security breach. You should have a plan in place for coping with the worst-case scenario. Do a walk-through of what you’d do in an emergency to make sure your team is prepared.