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Technology risks in business

We are increasingly relying on computers and in the internet for our business needs and conveniences but there are risks that need to be considered and prepared for in this area.

We have all come to depend on technology to run our businesses, gather information, stay connected and up to date, reach new customers and market our businesses.

So ask yourself an obvious question: ‘If the technology that I use in my business were to suddenly become unavailable, for whatever reason, would it affect my ability to do business?’

For example:

  • What would happen if your computer crashed? Do you have a regular back up system? Is it offsite for additional security?
  • If you lost internet access would your business ground to a halt? If so what is the back up plan?
  • Who would you call in the event of a technology melt down? Do you have a good repairman? You may not have had to use one in the past but its good to know who you would call if the need arose. Ask other like-minded business people for a recommendation before the need arises.

Technology in your business not only carries the risk of your business not being able to operate for a period of time or losing important material, there are also security and reputation risks that your business needs to be protected against.

You have a responsibility to protect the contact details and personal information of your clients. How secure is your laptop, smart phone or iPad? What would happen if they were to go missing? How secure is the information on it? Do you have a back up?

This year it was reported that a man in the USA had been arrested for downloading child pornography, when in fact it had been downloaded by his neighbour who was using the man’s unsecured wireless internet. The Police did apologise for the incident, however such negative publicity is the kind of risk that can cripple a business. Some mud will always stick, and that is the last thing your business needs.

Email and computer networks are high-risk areas for any business. Make sure your networks are secure and password protected – especially if you have employees who access your network. Lock folders that contain confidential information on your computer or network. Explore information security options for your emails, data, virtualisation, and remote working systems.

Another area of risk that many small businesses do not have a prevention strategy for is social media. Last week a Melbourne-based business fired an employee for posting negative comments about his company on facebook.

Regardless if the business made the right decision in firing the employee, the content that was posted has still been seen by hundreds and will certainly be a topic for discussion, particularly now that he has been let go. Remember that social media such as facebook and twitter are like tattoos in cyberspace. What you, your staff and others say online can come back to haunt your business. Now is the right time to put together a social media policy for your business. There are some great examples and templates to follow online.

The benefits of technology for your business certainly outweigh the risk. I know that technology has completely revolutionised my business and has increased competition, speed of delivery and transparency. However, if you do not protect your business against the risks that technology also brings, you are leaving your business open to preventable disaster.

What are some other ways that you can protect your business from the risks associated with technology and the internet?

What do you think?

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Rick Mapperson

Rick Mapperson

Rick Mapperson is the founder and managing director of Rick Mapperson and Associates ( http://sydneyinsurancebroker.com.au/), a personal insurance brokerage. Rick has been insuring people, particularly small business owners, for twenty years. Rick combines his skills as a licensed Financial Planner and his understanding as the co-founder of an Australian charity focused on families, to understand the best interests of his clients. You can follow Rick on twitter @RickMapperson

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