Running a home-based business is a great way to cut costs and stay close to your family, but protecting your privacy can be tricky when you’re running a company out of your house.
If you’re not careful, you might end up exposing your home address, a customer’s sensitive information, or proprietary files to unsavoury characters.
Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself and run your business without worry.
You just need a little extra attention to detail when it comes to privacy and how you currently expose yourself to online threats.
Opt for a virtual business address over a home address
You might think that using your home address as your business address is one of the benefits of working from home. After all, why incur all the costs of a physical location when you already have an address?
The potential risk of this decision is nothing to scoff at. Firstly, it may not even be possible: your homeowner’s association might not allow for working from home, or your city may prohibit home businesses.
The biggest problem is the lack of privacy. Do you want an unhappy customer showing up to bother your family? Or for opportunistic thieves to know you run a business out of your home? One of the best ways to fix this privacy leak is by setting up a virtual business address. By having your mail delivered to a virtual business address, you can:
- List your business on Google
- Have important mail forwarded to you
- Maintain complete privacy while working from home
- Project a professional business image
Secure your home network’s privacy
Hackers lurk in every corner of the Internet. If you want to become an expert at protecting your business and privacy, you can’t leave yourself vulnerable to anyone gaining access to your network, computer, and files.
One major vulnerability is the password provided to you by your internet service provider. These passwords are often simple and easy to hack. Change your password to something more secure (upper- and lowercase letters, special characters, numbers, etc) and update it regularly.
You might also consider a virtual private network (VPN) to hide your IP address. It also wouldn’t go amiss to include robust antivirus software and firewalls.
Install an SSL certificate on your website
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a technology that authenticates websites and encrypts the information sent to and from servers. This encryption process scrambles the data so that it can’t be read by cybercriminals.
Most website hosts give you a free SSL certificate so there’s no reason to forgo this technology. It’s especially important to use SSL technology when you take customers’ financial information during purchases. Your SSL certificate keeps your customers and their data protected, something crucial as a home business owner.
Obtain the proper home business insurance
If you think your homeowner’s insurance covers your home business activities, then you might need to contact your insurance agent. Most homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover you for files, professional equipment, or technology.
This might not seem like a privacy issue at first. However, if your business suffers a customer data breach, then you’ll definitely want the personal liability coverage provided by business insurance.
Protect information sitting on your laptop
Protecting privacy while running a home-based business means securing the information sitting on your desktop or laptop computers, even if it’s not on the Internet.
Keep your work computers protected by passwords so that no one else accesses your information or client accounts. You can also install data loss protection software to stay updated if someone else accesses your computers.
Keep your personal email private
Never make your personal Gmail or Yahoo email visible online. This includes when you’re contacting suppliers, service providers, customers, and prospects.
The more you use your personal email across various online systems, the more vulnerable you are to privacy breaches or telemarketers gaining access to your personal email address.
Instead, create a business email address. Most website hosts offer one as a part of their service. If you want to see every email in your personal inbox, forward the business email correspondence to it.
Install a robust home security system
It’s likely that you already have some measure of home security in place. Even if you do, you should think about making it more robust. If you don’t have any security in place yet, then strongly consider installing a system.
You must protect your home office from break-ins so that your sensitive data and customer files never fall into the wrong hands.
Get a security firm to install burglar alarms and surveillance cameras. Ask them about systems that include remote access whenever you’re away from the property.
It’s good practice to install an intercom system, too, so that you and your family can communicate quickly in the event of a break-in.
If you’re overwhelmed by the security logistics of a home business, start by making a list of vulnerabilities in your home business operations.
Your next action step from there is to shore up those privacy holes one by one until you’re fully protecting your business from the prying eyes of hackers or cybercriminals. Your home and business are the best of both worlds, and that deserves the best privacy protection that you can offer.