In the world of business, it's not the equipment, machinery, or even the human resources that's the most important. In this age of information, knowledge is the biggest asset that a company can have. And in most cases, knowledge or information is stored in electronic form, either in personal computers, or on servers run by hosting companies.
One big problem with information being powerful is that it can be sometimes insecure. For instance, a sales person might be going on trips, and could lose his laptop in the airport, whether to theft or loss. If someone steals your laptop, that person could theoretically use information there to impersonate you and do all sorts of mischief, like do banking transactions, and the like. Or if someone gains access to your company's email system, those people can get hold of your business contacts, and pirate your clients and suppliers.
Preventing business identity theft usually requires strengthening your security systems. Here are some ways by which you can tighten security.
Be informed. Information is the first line of defense against information theft. Be sure to brief your employees to always be secure in their dealings, whether online or offline. Make sure your employees know that by being part of your business, they have been entrusted with information and knowledge about inner workings of your company, and that they should not let this information fall into the wrong hands.
Employ people you trust. Do background checks on all managers and employees. This is especially necessary for staff members who work on your information systems. Some IT workers might be able to open backdoors and keyloggers, and could theoretically gain access to your confidential files.
Have strict software and hardware rules. Most vulnerabilities at the workplace are a result of weak software and hardware restrictions. Employees might access websites with malware, and inadvertently install viruses on their computers, which can spread through the network. Some employees could be plugging in USB thumb drives that contain viruses, and likewise spread these through the network. The same goes with employee-owned laptops plugged in or connected via a wireless network. It would be a good idea to implement some restrictions with regard to use of such equipment. It's also a good idea to require everyone to change passwords to their email accounts and other work-related accounts regularly.
Use secure means to store information. One of the more common ways business identity and information are lost would be through irresponsible use of media. Apart from using laptops, employees could be storing business files on DVDs, CDs and USB thumb drives, and these are easily lost. Make sure your company uses encryption systems that will prevent information from being accessed by third parties when the discs or other media are lost. If you store credit card or banking information on computers, be sure these are stored with encryption, and that the password is known by a few people possible.
What do you do when you suspect someone's identity has been stolen? If you suspect that one of your manager's or employee's identities have been compromised, the first things to do are lock down and secure that employee's access. If he has credit card or banking information, call the bank as soon as possible to report the loss. Then change all passwords and access codes, to minimize the possibility that whoever has gained access to that employee's files is able to access the rest of your information.
Identity theft is a big risk in today's connected world. Your business information can easily be compromised if just one of your employees slip up. Therefore, it pays to be proactive in dealing with securing your information systems.