Worms & Spiders & Bugs, Oh My!

Tomorrow we’ll be trying to come up with the scariest costumes, visiting nightmare-inducing haunted houses, or maybe just binge-watching our favorite Halloween movies as we wait for creepy kids to ring the doorbell in a quest for treats.

For business owners, I’ve got a scarier scenario to think about. Imagine that people trying to email you get weird error messages. So they call and tell you that the important documents they are sending via email are getting bounced back and are undeliverable!

So that big proposal you’re working on can’t be completed. Or perhaps a prospective buyer can’t reach you via email or your website’s contact form. That’s pretty scary huh?

It happens. In fact I spent the better part of last week walking a few of my clients through a frightening scenario like this.  So here’s a little advice that might help, should you find yourself facing a haunted server – or worse…

Preparing for Disaster

Back It up

Create a system for backing up your business that includes routinely backing up all data and storing it. Include procedures for what to do if data is lost and define who has access to the backed up data. Consider using cloud services as well as a physical backups, and backup your data in more than one place.

Invest in Security

Invest in a solid security program or service that will ensure your network is safe. Update whenever updates are offered. You may also choose to have your network tested. There are services that try to hack into your site in order to discover its vulnerabilities, and you can rest assured that your website and business network are regularly probed by the bad guys.

Use Password Protection Best Practices

Your greatest security is simply choosing good passwords and changing them regularly. Use random passwords that are impossible to guess. Avoid common passwords like birthdays, kids’ or pets’ names, or anything related to your company. Change passwords regularly and restrict access carefully. When you hire outside help, give them temporary passwords and delete when the work is finished. Always change passwords when a person leaves your company.

Conduct Security Training

Train your staff well on security procedures and how to avoid malware. Make clear guidelines on downloading from the internet and teach them about common threats like phishing schemes. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Create an Acceptable Use Policy

Along with your security training, create an Acceptable Use Policy. This is a written statement that outlines what uses of the company’s computers are appropriate or inappropriate, especially in regards to internet use. It’s important to have these guidelines spelled out clearly.

Protect Your Customer Data

On your website, clearly spell out how customer data is stored and used. Write a privacy policy that covers everything and post it on your website. Treat this customer data like it is gold. Make sure it is encrypted and restrict employee access to only the information they need.

Use Multiple Channels to Keep in Touch

Make contact with your customers through as many different channels as possible so that if you lose one, you can still communicate with them. For example, if your site gets taken down, you can still maintain contact through social media or your email mailing list.  I’ve used Facebook pages and Messenger to maintain communication with clients in scenarios when the Web Hit The Fan, and keeping everyone informed is probably the most important thing you can do.

Establish Disaster Protocols

Establish clear protocols for any type of disaster that could occur, from data breaches to natural disasters that shut down your company. When something like this occurs, you and your staff need to act quickly and in an organized manner.

Hire Good Legal Back-up

Hire a business lawyer and make sure that all of your legal documentation is in order. Keep copies of all paperwork and understand well what you legally can and can’t do.

Listen to Legal News

Keep an ear open for changes in internet law. Especially where ecommerce is concerned, there have been major changes in recent years that anyone doing business online needs to know. Make sure you understand copyright law well and how it pertains to what you do online.

If you like this sort of thing, stay tuned for Chamber sponsored webinars where we talk about social media, positioning, marketing, and other business topics all of the time.  Past webinars are archived at http://chamberwebtraining.com


About the Author:  Ken Ivey, affectionately dubbed ‘the Web Czar’ by peers – has been helping businesses embrace technology for 27 years. Contact him at  ken@livingwaterdigital.com or call 920-645-2700