Protecting Your Business From Burglars and Loss

According to the Doncaster Free Press, our area is once again suffering from a rash of thefts. A loss of this magnitude can be devastating for a brick and mortar business, but online businesses should prepare for disaster, too.

Before Your Business Suffers a Loss

If you don't prepare for a loss now, it could be too late for you. Granted, there's a bit of work and investment needed, but it's better to dedicate this time and money now than after a burglary or damage. So what should you do? Here are a few suggestions:

Insure Your Stuff

Insurance is one of those things that you don't miss until you need it. For most of us, it feels like just another unnecessary expense. The truth is not having it can stop your business cold. How? Simple. Let's say you work from home, which gets broken into. Now, let's say they take your wallet as well as your phone, tablet, and computers. How will you replace these items? How could you even begin to afford everything you need to replace? Again. Insure your stuff no matter where you do your work or what industry you're in.

Keep an Itemised List of Your Assets

Itemised List of Your Assets

Itemised List of Your Assets

This is another one of those things that we often put off until it's too late. We all know that, once our belongings are stolen, there's a slim chance of getting them back. However, you need to keep in mind that items are recovered all the time. How will you be able to prove they're yours if you don't have the serial numbers, model numbers, and copies of your receipts? You'll find you'll also need this to determine the amount of compensation or replacement value of each item. On a side note, you'll find this makes an excellent checklist for you to go through in the aftermath of the crime.

Storing Client and Business Data

If you've stored client data on the items you've lost, you'll have to notify them all. However, you might consider storing these types of files on services such as Dropbox, Waula, SugarSync or SpiderOak. This way, you simply have to change your password to keep them safe. You'll also get instant access to them so you can continue working.

Back Up! Backup! Back Ups!

Backup Your Data to avoid disaster

Backup Your Data to avoid disaster

Before you go any further, and before you do anything else, back up and create a backup of all your important files. You'll be so glad you did. And don't forget to back up all of your business related files as well. Why? You'll find business will become extremely difficult and time consuming without them. And if you lose your receipts and invoices, the consequences could haunt you for years to come. (Hello audit *groan*). Backing up to a USB stick or external drive and keeping it offsite is one answer, as is automatically backing up to cloud storage e.g. Dropbox

Add Barriers

Thieves are looking to get in and out of a property as quickly as possible. When friends of ours, Coding Futures, had their office burgled, the culprits took mere minutes to clear out several of the offices in the building. The more difficult and time consuming you make it for burglars, the more likely they are to skip your home or business and search for an easier target.

The more difficult and time consuming you make it for burglars, the more likely they are to skip your home or business and search for an easier target.

You can also greatly decrease your chances of losing everything with every lock and door you put in their path. If you work from home, for example, they might take your wallet sitting by the front door, but if they have to break the office door down to get at your computer equipment, and break another door to get at your smartphone, and another lock to get at your petty cash fund, chances are someone will hear the noise before they get that far. They're also likely to give up and leave before getting past your office. The same principle holds true in an office setting -- the more doors and obstacles you can put in their way, the better.

Online, add additional barriers like SMS authentication, security questions, two-step verification, and other security measures to help protect your online accounts.

CCTV Cameras and Alarms

These items can help. After all, you have an idea of what the culprits were wearing or what they looked like. Alarms can force the thieves to move faster or abandon their tasks and get out as soon as possible, but keep in mind these aren't exactly preventative measures. If you're working with credit card information and other sensitive data, you may want to keep that in mind when choosing an office space.

Protecting Your Business When the Worst Happens

We really hope the above tips are enough to keep your business safe, but we know that the worst sometimes does happen. When it does, there are a few steps you can take:

File a Police Report

file a police report after a break in

file a police report after a break in

Like we mentioned before, filing an incident report with the police might feel like a waste of time, but make sure you do it regardless of where your items were taken from. And make it one of the first steps you take. Hopefully, they'll be able to collect enough evidence to find the guilty party and recover your items unharmed. But, at the very least, it will give you the incident number for your insurance claim.

Find My Phone and Other Security Services

Like CCTV cameras and other similar measures, this type of software isn't so much a deterrent as it is a small hope after the fact. That being said, it's absolutely worth setting up these sorts of programs on any and all of your electronics. Some programs like IGotYa will even take a picture of the thief when they try to use your phone.

Reset Everything

When you run a business, you'll have access to all sorts of professional and personal accounts. Make sure to immediately report your cards stolen, notify the appropriate government departments, and reset absolutely all of your passwords, SSH keys and anything else that can access any of your (or your client's) accounts. This will make things difficult for you for a while, but you can use programs such as Roboform to keep track of everything for you.

As for reinstalling your programs, Charlie found an amazing website that lets you download and install all your favourite programs at once.