Like it or not, your business exists within a digital age. And while computers enable businesses to reach a broader range of customers through interactive marketing, store and categorize data in ways pen and paper could never allow, and many other advantages, technology is not without its pitfalls. While the gamut of digital crises can seem intimidating, especially for those of us with only the most simplistic and practical understanding of information technology, there are a few common problems businesses encounter which, thankfully, can be prepared for.

1. Social Media Meltdown

The world’s never been more connected, thanks largely in part to the prevalence of social media. It’s practically a given at this point that your workplace will have some level of social media presence, be it a Facebook or Twitter account, public blog, or other means of digital outreach. Twitter is perhaps the best example, where its strict character limit leaves words at a premium. It’s long been known that communication through social media is primed for misinterpretation, as online speech lacks the nuance of body language, tone of voice, and so on. While between friends or family these misunderstandings are easily addressed, the implications for a business can be devastating. A poorly worded tweet can quickly spiral out of control and harm your company’s reputation.

The best way to crisis manage a social media blunder is to avoid it in the first place. Managing your business’s social media presence is a full-time job, so don’t pass the duty off to employees not familiar with the various platforms. Establish a “playbook” which details the specifics of your company’s mission statement and public message, as this ensures continuity of communication across platforms. In the event of a mishap, remain apologetic, communicative, and responsive. Another thing to keep in mind is that employees represent the company even when not in the office, so use discretion when discussing your work even on your own personal social media accounts.

2. Big Data, Big Losses

It’s rare for a modern business to keep physical file cabinets full of client contact information, tax records, and other documentation. The digitization of these records has been a tremendous boon, as digital databases are far easier to navigate than stacks of ink-and-paper documents. It’s intimidating to think that something as simple as spilling cup of coffee on a hard drive could wipe all that data away and that’s why it’s essential to prepare.

Not all businesses have the on-staff tech know-how to protect their data, which is especially true for small and medium sized businesses. Even if your corporation has its own IT department, it’s still prudent to consider hiring an outside managed computer service to handle your data storage. A managed computer service can back up your data on their own cloud network, which adds an extra layer of security by having off-site storage. These types of services are generally scalable, which means they can offer protection scaled to meet your company’s size and budget.

While internal IT departments often end up spread too thin, having to deal with even small problems like a malfunctioning printer, an Ottawa, CA managed computer service can target their attention at bigger threats, guaranteeing you always have a set of eyes looking out for weaknesses in your network or server architecture, offer protection from opportunistic hackers and “ransomware,” and other common threats.

3. Access and Permissions

One common sense way to avoid digital crises is to limit your employees’ access and permissions to what they need to complete their specific role in the company. Unless you’re a payroll employee, you don’t need access or the login credentials for the business’s payroll and accounting software. Likewise, sales associates who aren’t trained in social media shouldn’t have access to passwords for your company’s social media accounts. Furthermore, maintain the same practices with login credentials as you would for your own personal email and online banking accounts. Change passwords regularly, and keep a backup of this data in a secure location.

4. Diffusion of Responsibility

The responsibility of protecting your workplace’s digital assets falls to every employee, no matter how small their role in the company may be. Familiarize employees with basic web security, such as how to run basic antivirus and what signs to look out for when trying to avoid malicious websites and emails. While tech support ultimately falls to your IT department, each employee should have some level of responsibility and accountability for any hardware they use regularly. Diffusing responsibility down to the lowest levels of your staff builds a secure network of checks and balances that can stop small problems from growing into full-blown digital crises.

Do Your Part

Accidents happen, but the simple fact is that most digital crises in the workplace result from negligence. An informed and well-trained staff is the first line of defense and employing an outside managed computer service will give you the expert edge needed to protect your digital assets from more complex problems. Once security measures and awareness are a priority at every step in your company’s ladder, your business should be prepared to weather any storm.