In your home or small office, the most important and valuable asset is almost certainly your information: your contacts, your knowledge, in some cases, your entire business is the information you hold. In the good old days, you could keep it safe with a large padlock, but no longer!
When organizing your home office or small company, you are often working on a shoestring, and very busy just keeping up with your current tasks. So you may not be focusing on what would happen if something went wrong. You may not think you have time to read articles like this. If so, just ask yourself the following questions before you stop reading:
1. Could you still carry on working if your computer broke down?
2. What would you lose if someone broke in and stole your computer?
3. What would you lose if your hard disk was unavailable?
4. If your office caught fire and your computer was destroyed, could you carry on in business?
5. If your office caught fire and your computer was destroyed, would you have good enough records to meet your legal requirements?
Identifying the threats
The starting point for keeping your information safe is knowing what the threats are.
The threats to any asset are traditionally theft, fire and flood and vandalism. To these we can add dependency on electrical power for our information as computers depend upon power to work. However, the level and type of these risks is different if we keep our information on computer.
Computers are attractive to thieves, not for their value to you as the repository of your information, but as an easily removed and disposed-of asset. This means that a burglar is much more likely to break in and steal a computer than a filing cabinet. The value to you of the information held on the computer is likely to be much more than that of the computer itself.
Computers are as vulnerable to fire and flood as any other asset, but vandalism comes in many forms, some of which are unique to computers. Computer hackers are probably not interested in you, but in the mischief that they can cause across the world. However, a computer virus inherited via an email or over the Internet could destroy your information, even its source was on the other side of the world.
Identifying the consequences
Some threats although very real, are not too worrisome because the consequences are not too serious. For example, spilling coffee on the keyboard of a desktop computer is unlikely to have serious consequences. In the worst case, you will need a new keyboard, which can be bought from Amazon or Wal-Mart for a few dollars. The same mishap may have much more serious consequences with a laptop where damage is more likely to include damage to the internal workings of the machine.
The consequences of a lack of power are likely to be short term: unless you have a business which is time critical, you are unlikely to be put out of business by a power outage. On the other hand theft or destruction of your computer may lead to loss of information which is far more valuable than the machine itself.
Simple things to do to keep your information safe
The conclusion has to be that part of organizing your office has to include steps to protect your information. These should include a good backup strategy for your information, physical security for your office to prevent theft of your computer equipment, strong passwords and a good anti-virus (malware) program to prevent malicious access to the information and if your business is time-critical, either a backup power supply or laptop computers which can run on their own batteries in the event of a power outage.