When you’re launching a new business, cybersecurity and data protection likely aren’t top of mind for you. But doing business comes with a lot of sensitive information that you don’t want getting in the wrong hands, and the nature of being online means safeguarding that data should be approached from several angles — especially if you run your business from home.
Whether you’re a solopreneur operating from your home office or a remote-first startup, there are a few steps you need to consider to ensure your business’s safety online. Below, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council experts weigh in on those steps and how they can help prevent cybercrime.
9 Data Security Steps to Take When Starting a Home Business
- Turning on multi-factor authentication.
- Using a virtual private network.
- Running your business devices on a separate network.
- Using tools and software from larger businesses.
- Implementing prevention training.
- Making backups of sensitive data.
- Using a password management tool.
- Seeking expert knowledge.
- Layering protection on your IoT devices.
1. Turning on Multi-Factor Authentication
You’ll need to consider adding multi-factor authentication (MFA) to all of your personal devices. The thing to remember about being an at-home entrepreneur is that your personal and professional data are usually on the same network. Adding MFA ensures that your private and company data are safe and secure, regardless of who tries to access your information. — Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
2. Using a Virtual Private Network
New entrepreneurs should use VPNs — or virtual private networks — before working online. This creates a secure connection that makes it impossible for hackers to gain access to your content. VPNs will encrypt your team’s web activity and hide their IP addresses so they’re safe no matter what network they’re on. — Jared Atchison, WPForms
3. Running Your Business Devices on a Separate Network
Your home network is often connected to a lot of devices, which are in turn interacting with a lot of different companies and services. These devices all probably interact with one another on the same network, which means a security breach on one may compromise them all. Reconsider running your business on the same network as so many other devices and users. — Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC
4. Using Tools and Software From Larger Businesses
Rather than use smaller developers or custom plugins, go through large channels that have security already built in. Large businesses have a lot more at stake than your small, at-home business, so a data breach with them is far less likely. Although this method might seem more expensive at first, in the long run, the security is well worth the investment. — Matthew Capala, Alphametic
5. Implementing Prevention Training
When it comes to data protection and cybersecurity, you must train your team on how to best secure their software and stay alert for any potential threats. You can save yourself a lot of headaches by implementing prevention measures to ensure that hacks and attacks don’t seriously harm your business or its data. — Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
6. Making Backups of Sensitive Data
One cybersecurity factor worth considering is whether or not you have backups of all your sensitive data. Despite your best efforts, a hacker may still make it through your defenses and compromise your data. I recommend making physical and digital copies of all of your important data so you can make a quick recovery in the event of an attack. — John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
7. Using a Password Management Tool
Use a password-sharing app so you aren’t revealing any actual passwords to others. Also, have multiple layers of user permission settings so you are only giving access to what each role needs. Remember that data protection and cybersecurity can be as nuanced and structured as your company need them to be. — Shu Saito, Fact Retriever
8. Seeking Expert Knowledge
Any level of cybersecurity you have is constantly degrading as methods of attack constantly evolve. You probably don’t have the benefit of a full IT department to keep everything up to date, so it is necessary to contract a third-party IT company to protect you from the latest cyber warfare trends. Top-of-the-line security from five years ago is likely child’s play to sophisticated attackers today. — Liam Leonard, DML Capital
9. Layering Protection on Your IoT Devices
If you’re using IoT (Internet of Things) devices and home assistants, then make sure to add more layers of protection. Massive data breaches have taken place because of something as little as a fish tank monitor being connected to the company’s overall network. Use passwords on everything and avoid connecting your main business account to multiple nonessential devices. — Blair Williams, MemberPress