Preventing Sabotage in Your Small Business
By Mark Swartz
Sabotage can arrive in many forms from numerous sources. A disgruntled employee might hack data from your server. Or a competitor hires your best staff to leave you with lesser contributors.
There is no way to completely protect an organization from mischief. Rogue employees, crabby customers or competitors, anyone really can plant false info on social media, steal merchandise, or even bribe insiders to spy.
The best you can do is take precautions and be vigilant. Implement at least a few of the following measures to reduce the threats.
Start With a Risk Assessment
What kind of breaches would bring down your firm, and who would benefit most? Think about what is at greatest risk. Maybe it’s confidential data, or expensive stock stored vulnerably. Who has access but may not be trustworthy? Based on the answers, create a plan to ward off unwelcome actions.
Conduct Employee Background Checks
For every potential hire perform a background check. It can reveal a criminal record, suspicious references, and lies on resumes. Doing a credit probe (with permission) could show poor financial management. Better to know these things up front than to discover you’ve hired a convicted embezzler.
Reinforce Codes of Conduct
No matter how small the company, there should be a code of conduct in place. At a minimum it will add weight to your disciplinary response (or court claim) if an employee abuses the rules. At best it inhibits bad behaviours by pointing out what’s expected, and the consequences of breaching procedures. Include sections on ethical activities, confidentiality and whistleblowing.
Keep Private Conversations Private
Sometimes staff will go to coffee shops or other public venues to talk business. Make sure they know that loose lips can sink ships. Speaking loudly on mobile phones in public poses the same risk. You never know who’s nearby. Employees are particularly exposed if their clothing or accessories show the name of the company. In addition, blurting out secrets on non-secured instant messaging or email apps is asking for trouble.
Improve the Security Of Premises
Whether situated in a small building, a store or your home, small businesses need to watch for intrusions. Install an adequate security system. That likely includes video cameras in strategic locations. Also an alarm monitoring system and locks on private file cabinets. Don’t forget the basics either, such as not leaving important documents lying around.
Increase Virtual Protections
Cyber-security is a huge issue. One unblocked hack could expose your company’s hidden data, or let a virus in to wreak havoc. There are precautions you can take depending on budgets and how your data is distributed.
Set access levels
Only key people should be able to access critical documents. Sensitive material should be password guarded or protected by fingerprint, retinal scan, or other such mechanism. Computer ports can be blocked from portable USB drives that might contain malware (or be used to download files).
Contract an ethical hacker to break into your systems. Have them probe everything from your server and website to wireless devices. Find out what steps to take – and how much it will cost – to cover security gaps.
Restrict apps users can install
Increasingly companies are allowing staff to bring their own devices for work. Unfortunately many apps for personal use have lax privacy policies. Some actively spy on the user’s locations, contacts and transactions. Though more costly, it might be wiser to issue devices for business purposes only.
Enforce the social media policy
How many of your employees know what they can and cannot do on social media when it’s company-related? Not only should you have a clear social media policy, but also online activity could be monitored inexpensively in real time to detect abuses.
Being proactive is the best defense against sabotage. Prepare yourself for the worst. As well, develop a disaster and emergency recovery plan cost of waiting until crisis mode could be too high for your business to survive.