Starting a new business is a mixture of fun, fear and challenge. For many new business owners, the technology side of things can be particularly fearful. With so many things to think about, how do you know what you do and don’t need to be able to make a success of your new business, and stay on the right side the law?
So to help you tackle the tech, we asked Mike Ianiri to outline the technology essentials for startups, and how to maintain IT security from day one.
1. Protect your data
Day one of your new business and you look at how you are going to bring on board that first customer. You’ve invested a huge amount of time, and probably money, in developing your product or service, and now you want to tell the world.
In the meantime, you’ve developed the start of an ever-expanding dataset: your product information, your target audience list, your plans. All of which can be valuable to others. Make sure you are protecting it.
- Back up your data into the cloud, so should your laptop break or disappear, you can get your data back quickly and continue working
- Encrypt your devices. Microsoft BitLocker is part of Windows 10 Pro and Apple FileVault works with iOS X. Third parties such as ESET, Symantec and Sophos sell well-respected products too.
- Change your password regularly. Passwords can be bought on the Dark Web and if you’re using an old password, there’s a risk it is out there for sale
- Track your laptop. Both Microsoft and Apple have tracker functions built into the operating system and third party products such as Prey give you at least a fighting chance of getting your laptop back is some scumbag nicks it.
2. Protect your phone
Our phones contain huge amounts of data these days, nearly as much as your laptop. If you’re using cloud-based computing, such as Office365, your phone is an access point to that data.
Being able to wipe data and secure your phone if its stolen is vital. Look for a suitable Mobile Device Management solution.
3. Develop a HTTPS website
HTTPS websites are far more secure, particularly if you are selling online. They provide a level of perceived trust for your customers and they are trusted by the search engines.
Google now penalises HTTP websites in its search algorithms, so your SEO performance will suffer too if your website isn’t HTTPS.
SSL provides a secure channel over the internet. This changes a website’s address from HTTP to HTTPS. In this context the S stands for ‘secure’.
Adding an appropriate SSL certificate is simple. Buy it and give the details to your web developer.
4. Don’t use public WiFi
As a new business, chances are you’re going to spend a lot of time in coffee shops. They’re a great place to meet people to expand your network. When you want to show them your website or respond to emails, the easiest solution is the coffee shop’s public WiFi. The problem is they are rarely secure and are a hacker’s dream because of that.
Mobile data gets cheaper every day, so use your mobile phone and tether to your laptop to get the internet connection you need.
5. Don’t Open Every Email
Ransomware and impersonation emails are rife today. If you don’t know, ransomware, when on your laptop, will stop you getting to your data until you pay a fee, usually requested in Bitcoin.
Impersonation emails are just that. They pretend to be from a supplier or someone senior in a company and ask either for a specific payment to be made or for account details to be changed so that payments go to the crooks instead of the right people.
If you’re suspicious, call the person who supposedly sent the email and ask. Never click on the links and never follow the instructions in the emails. It can be difficult to spot them because the crooks spoof very convincing URLs and reply email addresses. Losses of over £100,000 are commonplace.
6. Get a support agreement
Your time is precious and you are very good at what you do. What you may not be that good at is understanding the inner workings of all your IT, how it interacts with other IT and how to protect it.
Whilst you may have a mate that knows about “IT stuff”, you can guarantee he’s on holiday or at work when you need him. IT support companies will charge either a monthly retainer or work on a Pay As You Go (PAYG) method to help you when you need it.
Take their advice so that you can get on with your work and not worry about the hours, and data, lost when something goes wrong. This includes things like anti-virus and anti-malware protection.
So that’s six ways to keep your new business safe from Day One. Better safe than sorry.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Mike Ianiri, Director of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox. Mike works with companies, charities and other organisations to help them choose the right telecoms packages for their needs and thereby reduce their costs.
More from ByteStart
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- How technology can help businesses make the leap from start-up to scale-up
- The Pros and Cons of Microsoft Office 365
- 5 Top small business tools that will save you time, hassle and money
- 13 Questions you must ask to get the best deal on business telecoms, and why you should never buy just on price
- Telecoms mistakes to avoid when starting a business
- Working from anywhere: live anywhere in the world, do business in the UK
Funding your business
- A Guide to Alternative Business Funding – The New Routes to Finance
- Preparing to raise finance for your business – 6 Steps to success
- What to do when the bank says “NO”