Contractors, vendors and freelancers of all kinds are often an integral part of SMB success. For business owners, contracting outside help for specific and one-off tasks is an easy path to savings on employee benefits like 401K plans, health insurance, paid time off and more.
While the vast majority of independent contractors are harmless, we’ve heard enough stories to give us pause. Certain self-interested individuals may expose your business to threats and detrimental data breaches. Data breaches can have lasting and significant effects to even the most well-known and established companies. Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with data privacy and protection and choose companies they can trust with their personal information.
When inviting anyone into your workplace, there are a wealth of documents with private information that can easily be swiped off a desk or copied in the backroom and this “borrowed” information can have a lasting impact. Read on for things any SMB professional should do before engaging with an outside vendor.
The first step to a responsible engagement with an independent contractor ought to be much like the first step of hiring a new employee – research! Search the web for the best in the area, ask your network for recommendations and read online reviews. Word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews can offer priceless insight into past experiences with any given individual and are a great way to find a vendor who will not only get the job done well, but can be trusted with the sensitive data scattered around your office.
Require proof of identification
Oftentimes many of us allow service professionals into our homes and workplaces without so much as asking to see identification. While it may seem uncomfortable to ask a service provider to show identification before opening your doors to them, it proves to be an important step in deterring fraudsters and protecting your company and your employees from potentially dangerous impersonators.
Organize the office
In many offices, you can find documents containing sensitive information on every corner. We all do our best to file documents in secure storage cabinets right away, but know sometimes that does not happen. In the case that a vendor enters with malicious intent, ensuring confidential information is out of reach is paramount.
Digitizing documents with sensitive information and storing them in the secure cloud is quick way to decrease the risk of a breach resulting from stolen information. Some scanners, like Fujitsu ScanSnap, integrate with all the major cloud service providers such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and more. Simply scan and send to the cloud! Many of these scanners have built in features like OCR (optical character recognition) that allow you to add keywords to make the files searchable in the cloud. That way, digitized records can be accessed quickly by those who need them, as you quickly pull files by name, keyword or any other category you decide to tag it with. Additional security features of cloud storage providers enable business owners to easily decide can access files and and revoke privileges with ease. After digitizing important documents, be sure to lock paper records away where only cleared team members can access them.
When it comes to keeping customers happy, the promise that you are doing everything in your power to keep their personal information safe is crucial. Remembering to do these simple things before inviting a stranger into your business is a sure way to protect your SMB from the risk of devastating consequences of data breaches and to keep your customers coming back for more.
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