While many small businesses, organizations, clubs, charities, and churches work hard to build a good reputation, few are putting in enough effort into actually protecting their reputation. Having your brand tarnished can cripple your business. While big companies can recover from this type of damage, most small businesses and organizations do not have this luxury. That’s why you need to take the initiative in securing your brand and protecting your customers/members. Here are some strategies that you can use to prepare for the worst.

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Monitor Your  Reputation Online

While the Internet can help your business reach a wider audience and expand your business, you have to put in a lot of effort into monitoring your reputation online. Angry customers, competitors or general complaints on social media, message boards, and authority sites can damage your reputation. This is very important because 81% of people conduct research before they buy online.

Monitoring your brand also allows you to reply to social media mentions which have multiple benefits. You can figure out what customers think about you reach out to influencers that support you, and engage with your target audience. There are many in-house and third-party software solutions to help you monitor your brand. You can think of these tools as an online public relations platform.

 

Keep Up with Site Security and Use Backup Software

Most small businesses are now using content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Magento for their websites. What these small business owners don’t understand is that these CMS platforms can easily be hacked without proper security in place. One statistic shows that out of all the sites hacked in 2016, four of the five were running WordPress. The reason why this happens so often is that CMS platforms have many vulnerabilities out of the box.

You need to make sure that your admin options are well set up and that you’re using a theme that has strong security. The majority of hacks result from hosting platform, insecure themes, and vulnerable plugins/extensions. That means you have to do your due diligence and look through every theme and plugin/extension you’re using for your site. It’s also imperative that you update your CMS, theme and plugins/extensions regularly as developers are always working to improve security every few months. Finally, you need to be backing up regularly so that if you do ever get hacked, you can recover from the attack.

 

Install a Data Loss Prevention System

There have been many stories in the headlines about organizations accidentally leaking sensitive customer information. Some of these brands have leaked social security numbers, credit card information, addresses and other personal details that leave their customers vulnerable to fraud and other malicious actions. The best way to prevent this from happening to your small business is to invest in a data loss prevention system.

DLP systems make sure that your in-house employees cannot send out sensitive information outside of the company network. Implementing a system like this will protect your company’s valuable information from being leaked whether it’s accidental or intentional. Installing such as system can be challenging. However, there are many things you can do to make the process easier. Isaca recommends that you minimize such as system’s impact on business operations and create meaningful policies to manage your data. They also offer many other tips to help you successfully implement a DLP solution.

As you can see, there are many ways your name can be damaged. You have to make a commitment to protect your business if you’re serious,  As mentioned earlier, an attack on your brand can cripple your business if you’re not prepared to handle it. While investing in the proper security measures can be costly, you have to understand that it’s an essential part of running a business and is the key factor that will protect your customers.

~ Cynthia