Whether you’re considering a cloud-based workflow management tool for your service company or offering customers smart home products to boost your bottom line, you can bet security concerns will come up. By acknowledging that the worries are based in reality and learning how to protect your company and customers, you can leverage the best technology has to offer while mitigating known risks.
Technology Does Come With Risks
One of the worst things you can do when leveraging technology is ignore the inherent risks or make light of them when dealing with customers.
If you’re going to use tech that’s connected to the internet or cloud-based systems to run your company and keep tabs on all your employee or customer data, you need a proactive approach to safeguarding all that information. Hackers may seem to target larger companies, but those are the stories that make the news; everyone is vulnerable to identity theft or hacking. A 2018 The Harris Poll notes that as many as 60 million Americans have dealt with identify theft, for example.
The same is true for products you offer to your customers; no connected home product is 100 percent without risk, and selling them as such is being less-than-honest.
At the same time, the fear many people have about smart technology isn’t commiserate with the realities, and there are plenty of steps you and your customers can take to mitigate the risks. Taking the initiative and being honest about these things helps you learn how to protect yourself and teach your customers how to do the same.
Tips for Protecting Data and People
Education is the first weapon against security concerns. Ensure all your employees are properly trained on both your company systems and any smart home products they sell, install or maintain for customers.
Some security tips everyone in your company should know, aside from creating strong passwords and keeping them confidential, are listed below.
- Don’t connect to public Wi-Fi to complete transactions via a company site or server, especially when they involve sensitive data such as customer payment information.
- Be wary of phishing scams, which often involve emails that look legitimate and ask you to go to a link and log in to an account. Train your staff to call about these issues or navigate in their browser to a known account page to log in and check anything out instead of following links in emails.
- Train your staff not to leave mobile devices or other access points unattended. A huge portion of cyber attacks — around 90 percent — are related to human error or behavior, so taking these types of precautions can dramatically reduce your risks.
These same tips can be used by your customers to safeguard their own home networks. Some other advice you might give them as you install or maintain smart home equipment, such as wireless thermostats and mobile-operated HVAC systems, include:
- Always using the highest possible security settings on their home network, even if they trust their neighbors or don’t have any close neighbors
- Regularly updating firmware for any connected device in their home — one unsecure device can put the entire network at risk
- Limiting who they give their password too; not everyone needs access to change the HVAC settings from their mobile device, for example
Even after implementing best practices for keeping your tech secure, be aware of what happens on your business network and encourage your customers to regularly review traffic on their own home network. Technology brings so many benefits, including convenience and cost savings, and it’s worth the time to ensure you’re as safe as possible using it.
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