Marie Stuart Noel

Secure and Protect your Business Assets

Secure and Protect your Business Assets

A business is an organization that produces goods or provides services to generate revenue for its owners. The main assets of a business are its money, inventory, equipment, digital assets and documents/data. Thefts are normal in businesses since most of them have valuable assets. However, theft of any business asset is a violation that feels very personal. Therefore, it is essential for business owners, especially Entrepreneurs, to take safety measures to protect their assets. This article is very important for me because I’ve experienced loss of business assets.

If you have been following my blog, you know I get very personal about my business experience. Discussing theft of business assets is something most Entrepreneurs shy away from. All types of businesses can experience loss of assets. In general, most people don’t realize how detrimental business asset thefts can be on a company. When people shoplift from large corporations, like Walmart, Target or Best Buy, many people see it as getting one up on greedy corporations. But, what about when asset theft happens to a small business owner, like a SoloEntrepreneur? Stealing from a large corporation is wrong, but when the theft happens to a small business, it can put that small business out of business forever.

Who can theft happen to?

Theft can happened to:

For this article, we’re focusing on thefts that happens to businesses and individuals who own these businesses. The main assets, that get stolen from businesses are money and equipment. Both require proper security measures to prevent theft and damage.  However, a growing asset theft is document/data and digital assets. And if you have a retail business, theft of inventory is very common.  In this article, I’d like to discuss the type of theft that can happen to your business owners and how to secure your assets.

Theft of money

If you run a retail business, thieves usually target cash registers first since they carry the most money. In true, any type of business can be targeting for money theft. Thieves can access your online banking account and transfer money from your business to their account. Thieves can target you on the way to the bank or as you’re leaving the ATM. Your employees can skim from your business as well.

For example. a Wichita woman, Nancy Martin, was sentenced to 4 years in prison for multi-million dollar theft. Nancy is 77 years and for 5 years, embezzled millions from two medical companies. The owners of the businesses, who were doctors, when told by Martin they were low on cash flow, would work more hours to cover expenses. This action is one, I believe, most Entrepreneurs can relate to. Not wanting the business to go under, business owners would work extra hours to bring it more cash flow. Thieves depend on avoid getting caught and will use the business owners’ willingness to keep their business going to deceive.

How can you protect your business from money theft?

  1. Watch everything
  2. Listen carefully
  3. Practice proper bookkeeping
  4. Monitor transactions
  5. Count-in, count-out cash
  6. Review all petty cash
  7. Actively participate in the business
  8. Slow down and stay alert

Theft of Inventory / Equipment

As discussed previously, shoplifting is rampant at large retailers like Walmart. However, small businesses can suffer inventory and equipment lost just as easily as the giant retailers. Thieves are even stealing government equipment like Jaws of life.  People tend to not bat an eye when theft happen at large retailers. However, there are consequences to stealing from a giant company. They can decide to pull their business from an area with large theft incidents, like this one, or they can increase their prices. When theft of goods or expensive equipment happens to a small business, the violation feels more personal.

Ways to minimize theft of inventory and equipment

Many Entrepreneurs work from home and mistakenly believe they are immune to theft. Theft of inventory can happen in your office and at your home. Safety measures that help prevent theft when you’re at home or work include:

  1. Keeping your valuables in a safe at home
  2. Avoid storage of inventory and equipment in your vehicle, so you don’t lose them if your car is stolen.
  3. Lock your car and house when you’re away from home so no one can steal your belongings.
  4. Certain thieves focus on businesses due to the high volume of valuable assets on site. Therefore avoid discussing valuable assets with others.
  5. Install security cameras and monitor them
  6. Lock your office doors
  7. Install an alarm system

Theft of documents and digital assets

Without customers, businesses cannot survive. Therefore, it’s vital that businesses treat their customers well and secure their possessions. Customer generated documents, such as invoices, should be safeguarded from theft. Access to customer data, such as credit card information and other personal information, should have limited access.  Large corporations can recover from data breaches but small businesses aren’t always as lucky. Dispose documents properly such as using a shredder.

Protect your information from freelancers on Fiverr, Upwork

Personnel information should also be protected. When you’re a Soloentrepreneur, you might only have freelancers, from sites like Fiverr, helping you run your business. Be very careful and keep communication on the platform. If you give a freelancer access to your socials or website, once their work is completed, remove their access. I once had 5 virtual assistants. One of them created a whole other admin profile, with his personal email address and password, without my permission on a project. Since I had 5 of them, I couldn’t figure out which one had done it. It took me a little while to trace it back, to identify the culprit. Which brings me to the next point.

It is crucial that business owners protect their personal assets too. When I discuss digital assets: Assets that your company owns that is not tangible, which exist and can actually be a major part of your business revenue, such as;

  1. Social media accounts
  2. Websites
  3. Email addresses
  4. Digital files
  5. Financial data

Create a digital defense for yourself and your business

To protect your digital assets, as soon as possible, here are 6 tools to implement today:

  1. Password Manager:   A software application designed to store and manage online credentials. It also generates passwords. Usually, these passwords are stored in an encrypted database and locked behind a master password. This tool saves time and protects your identity.
  2. Anti-malware/Anti-virus: Computer security software that detects, protects against, and removes malicious software. Anti-virus is scanning your computer at all times and alerts you if there is something strange. Anti-malware deters all other dangerous software, keeping valuable data from leaving your computer. This software speeds up your PC by blocking ads and spam websites.
  3. Virtual Private Network (VPN): Provides online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs can hide browsing history, IP address and location, your location for streaming, your devices, and browsing activity.
  4. Security Sockets Layer (SSL): A protocol used to encrypt and authenticate the data sent between an application, like your browser, and a web server. This leads to a more secure web for both you and the site visitors. SSL is often referred to as Transport Layer Security, or TLS. Google flags websites as “not secure” if they are not SSL protected. If a website is SSL protected, it begins with “https” and has a lock icon to the left of the website address.
  5. Mobile Threat Defense (MTD): A software that provides protection against cyber threats on mobile devices, networks, and applications. On mobile devices, MTDs can monitor threats by checking OS versions, system parameters, firmware, and device configurations.
  6. Mobile Device Management (MDM): A software tool that provides security management of the device and enforces security policies. MDMs can update equipment and applications, wipe files from a stolen or lost device, audit for compliance, encrypt emails and files, and create separate and secured environments for work and personal device.

Conclusion

Thieves can steal documents from your business, in digital format, by using a thumb drive and other devices. They can install trackers, viruses and more into your systems. There are infinite ways that thieves can steal from your company. Once a thief establishes that your business has valuable assets that they can gain access to and steal, they will find ways to hurt your business and steal your assets.

It’s best to identify weak spots in your business and take action to mitigate them. All the solutions I’ve discussed in this article will give you a head start to protecting your business assets. I know as Entrepreneurs, we often get caught up with how busy we get. Slow down, give yourself time to observe and understand the gears that keep your business moving. Mind each area carefully and protect what you’re working hard for, every day.

Lastly, find below the Digital Defense course by Verizon I recommend Entrepreneurs to enroll in. The course is free and will help you and your business with establishing digital defense.

Course Description

You’ve worked really hard to launch your small business. Now it’s time to learn how to protect your business. Increasing your Cybersecurity knowledge may prevent or mitigate harm to your small business. This beginner course will guide you through identifying common security risks and some initial security measures and best practices.

Learning Objectives

After completing this course, you’ll be able to:

•    Gain knowledge about securing digital systems for your business

•    Understand principles of web security

•    Understand key terms

•    Identify security risk

•    Learn about available resources to secure your business

•    Discover different approaches for security risk management and best practices

Go to course here.

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