Modern technology makes it easy for entrepreneurs to start and grow a business. But unless you live and breathe all things tech-y, chances are pretty good that keeping up with technological advancements and security best practices isn't the first thing you think about when you step into the office each day.
But more than the lack of awareness, most small and medium-sized businesses simply do not have the financial resources for a dedicated IT staff, which often leads to avoidable mistakes that cost businesses even more time and money.
To help you avoid common tech blunders, here's an overview of what not to do so you can avoid costly mistakes.
Mistake no. 1: Having a false sense of security
Many owners and entrepreneurs go about their business confident that their company is too small to be targeted by hackers. As a result, they tend to skimp on security or ignore the matter altogether. It is exactly this false sense of security that makes them very attractive to hackers. In fact, cyber attacks on small businesses were up by 91% in 2013 compared to the previous year.
Mistake no. 2: Skimping on IT and security infrastructure
Granted, small businesses don’t have the deep pockets that large corporations have, but when it comes to your IT and security infrastructure, you should never cut corners. That $30 router from Best Buy just won’t cut it for any company’s network. There’s a reason why there are consumer and enterprise versions of equipment like routers and printers. You wouldn’t store your cash in a shoebox, would you? The same goes for IT and network security to protect your priceless data.
Mistake no. 3: Foregoing staff training
Investing in expensive hardware or signing up for some fancy business automation software will be a waste of money if you and your staff do not know how to use them to their full potential. Training is doubly important if you do not have a full-time IT team because your workers will have no one to consult with if they encounter problems with the new equipment or software.
Mistake no. 4: Failing to backup and encrypt critical data
You would think that the need to back up and encrypt critical business data is common sense by now, but there are still businesses that have zero or insufficient data backup and encryption procedures in place. That often results in lost or stolen customer data and confidential business information.
Mistake no. 5: Using unlicensed or pirated software
Resorting to unlicensed software is very tempting to many organizations because of expensive licensing costs and tight budgets. In fact, a study by the Business Software Alliance found that nearly 1 in 5 PC software used in North America is unlicensed or improperly licensed. What these businesses do not realize is that the use of pirated software exposes their company to malware infections and hacking attacks - not to mention hefty fines.
Mistake no. 6: Using obsolete software and leaving critical systems unpatched
Obsolete software is a security and business risk that is easily avoidable, but many businesses still hold on to them because they can’t afford new software or can’t be bothered to migrate to newer versions. But what many of these businesses don’t realize is that hanging on to antiquated software will actually cost them more time and money in the long-term as support costs pile up and system downtimes decrease productivity. Unpatched systems are also a problem because they are highly vulnerable to hacking, which exposes the company to even more serious liability.
Mistake no. 7: Improperly disposing of data and outdated hardware
When disposing of data and outdated gear such as computers, smartphones and hard drives, it’s critical that they be done correctly and securely. Deleting files on a computer or smartphone does not actually remove them from the device. Either physically destroy the hard drive, or work with a reputable company for the proper way of disposing old but sensitive equipment, since improper disposal could lead to your data being stolen.
Mistake no. 8: Not having an Internet, email, and social media policy
Every company that uses social media, email and the Internet on a daily basis must have written policies in place. This is to establish ground rules for employees so they know what is expected and required of them when using technology and equipment provided by the company. A policy is also important in protecting the company’s digital assets from breach resulting from unsanctioned use of the Internet and company workstations.
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