The internet is undeniably a convenient place to have a business; you’re on a global platform with unlimited access to a large audience. However, just as you would need to secure a physical premises from burglary or vandalism, you need to take the same precautions with your online business.
There are many things you need to consider when starting any business; finances, legal protection, protecting intellectual property, and keeping customer details secure. When your business is online, you also have to consider protection from cyberattacks to keep your whole startup safe and secure. In the past few years there has been an increase in cyberattacks, and even small businesses aren’t safe. All business owners have a responsibility to protect themselves and their business from security risks, but your customers also expect you to have a system in place to keep their personal details safe. With so many avenues to consider, here are a few ways you should already be protecting your online domain.
Don’t make your business a weak target for cyber-criminals – this is your livelihood, so protect it like a fortress. Invest in antivirus and encryption software that automatically updates to patch vulnerable spots in your security. You should also get software that blocks spam and detects spyware. Companies that sell this type of software include McAfee, Norton, AVG and Avira.
All businesses need insurance, but it can vary depending on what you actually do. If you’re mostly working alone, you’re technically a freelancer providing specific services to a number of clients. This can make you more vulnerable to lawsuits, so there are two things that you need to protect your business; a lawyer, and Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance. As a freelancer, you’re going to be signing a lot of contracts with clients that are mostly interested in protecting their own interests.
A lawyer can look over all these contracts before you sign them, making sure that your own interests are also protected. PI insurance protects you when a client accuses you of providing inadequate services or designs; it covers the legal costs and expenses in defending the claim, as well as compensation payable to your client to rectify the mistake. You can also cover all your bases by getting an Umbrella Insurance Policy, which goes beyond the limits of regular policies and adds an extra layer of protection to those who risk getting sued. It also protects against libel, vandalism, slander and invasion of privacy.
At the end of the day, insurance makes sure that your business is protected, you get paid, and you have the means to keep your business running.
Before you even get started, you’ll have an idea for a business, which might include a name, logo, tagline, and even some business guidelines. Unfortunately, having an idea doesn’t mean you own it; at least, not until you acquire some Intellectual Property (IP) protections. These protections can include trademarks, copyrights, and patents. The right IP protection depends on the kind of business you’d like to start. If you’re just looking to start a small website business that is similar to hundred of other businesses out there, then you might not need IP protection. However, if you’re hoping to establish a brand, then you need to take the necessary steps to protect it, which might include registering a trademark.
A trademark gives you the right to exclude others from using similar marks in the marketplace that might confuse consumers. The purpose is to make sure consumers know where the goods and services with specific brand names on them are coming from. Doing this before you fully start can help you avoid infringement if your business name, logo or slogan has already been taken. A licensed trademark attorney can conduct a Comprehensive Trademark Search for you to make sure that your chosen company name is not infringing on an existing brand, file a trademark application to register your business, and help you protect your brand and ideas by giving you copyright protection.
Keep information secure
We all hopefully take precautions online to keep our private information secure; changing passwords, keeping details secret, and having a few security questions in place. Precautions are ever more important when you’re running an online business and you’re protecting sensitive information that belongs to other people.
One of the best ways to limit the leak of information is by making sure you limit the number of people who have access to the information. If you run an online shop, for example, then only you and maybe one other employee needs to have access to certain information, like customer credit card numbers. There is also software that can monitor outbound communications to make sure certain information isn’t leaking out. For businesses whose employees need remote access to the company computer system, require more than just a username and password to gain access — for instance, a token that displays a second password that changes regularly. The most important thing, is to make sure that anyone with access to sensitive information doesn’t lose their phone, laptop, or other devices that contain the information; in fact, it might be better to keep the information on a device that doesn’t leave the business premises.
Encryption software is another way to keep sensitive information safe, particularly financial information during business transactions. Visa USA and MasterCard International Inc. require most businesses operating online to verify that they have taken a number of steps, including data encryption, to protect customers who use their credit cards. If you meet those requirements, your online operation is likely to be fairly secure. However, since smaller businesses usually find it difficult to meet the requirements, outsourcing to PayPal can also keep the information safe, and it’s more cost-effective for startups on a budget.
You should also make sure you regularly update your security safeguards; hackers are always watching out for businesses that don’t have the latest antivirus software, because these defences don’t know how to deal with the latest developed viruses. Software should also be put in place to block spam and detect spyware, the programs that can be surreptitiously installed from outside a computer system and feed sensitive information to the intruder.
Reputation is everything when you’re building a business. Customers are usually very trusting of online businesses, especially if the products and services are of good quality, but once they hear of any hacking incidents or lawsuits, they are less likely to give you their business. To make sure that your online business flourishes, you need to take these steps to protect your domain. It’s the only way you’ll continue to get more business.