Five essential security tips for small businesses

Here, we look at both cybersecurity and physical security tips to protect your company.

The number of new businesses in the UK hit a new record in 2014, with almost 600,000 start-ups expected to be registered, according to the Centre for Entrepreneurs think tank. If you’re one of those people, then well done. It takes an immense amount of time, money and effort to start your own business, not to mention the unwavering encouragement and support of those around you. But now that you’ve done all you can to get your business off to the best start, consider whether you have done everything possible to stop criminals undermining your hard work.

1. Stay up-to-date against cyber-attacks

All the office security in the world won’t help if criminals can access your personal and financial information online. That’s why it’s essential to have the very latest antivirus and malware software installed and updated at all times. With special packages for small businesses available, such as the Norton Small Business software, it could save your new business a fortune in the long-term. In 2014 the Federation of Small Businesses estimated online fraud and cyber-crime cost its UK members over £785 million. It’s also important to control direct access to your systems with individual logins for all staff, screen locks for when machines are left unattended and updated passwords every 30-60 days.

2. Control access

Breaking and entering is a major concern for most businesses, as the cost of stolen stock, office equipment and personal belongings can soon add up. Ensure all accessible windows have locks fitted – and that people are appointed to lock them before leaving the premises. Doors too should comply with British Standard PAS 24-1 ‘Doors of Enhanced Security’, ideally with five-lever mortice locks from Jewson, and keep careful note of who has access to and possession of keys. If your business doesn’t rely on customers coming through the door, consider electronic fob keys so that only authorised personnel can enter.

3. Ensure visibility

Security lighting is a good way to deter thieves from approaching your property, and will draw attention if a crime is taking place. Just make sure it complies with the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act and won’t affect your neighbours. CCTV will also help detect and prevent crime, and provide evidence in the event of a crime. Smaller businesses may only need a couple of cameras – a professional installer such as RFCONCEPTS will be able to advise on the best system and camera locations for your premises.

4. Raise the alarm

Monitored alarms will help to drive away intruders – and ensure staff or the police will be on their way if the alarm persists. Consult a registered alarm specialist to find, install and maintain the ideal system for you. You could consider grouping together with neighbouring businesses to appoint a professional security guarding service – for your safety look for one licensed by the Security Industry Authority.

5. Protect valuable equipment and documents

Make sure computer servers and sensitive paperwork are stored safely and securely, and limit the number of people with keys or access codes. Mark or tag company equipment so that it can be traced back to you if lost or stolen, and use GPS software to track stolen company laptops and smartphones. You should also use document shredders to dispose of paperwork with sensitive personal, financial or commercial data, and arrange secure collection.

More than 40 per cent of UK businesses fell victim to crime in 2013. With this figure from the government’s Commercial Victimisation Survey in mind, make sure you double check the five key security areas mentioned when protecting your business. These are just some of the main points to consider once your business is under way, but don’t be put off by the expense. These costs will pale next to those incurred by your loss of business if you can’t trade due to a break in, or lose your customers’ information online. Remember, 72 per cent of businesses that suffer a major data breach close within 24 months, so don’t leave your company’s safety to chance.

Further reading on data security

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