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The internet has fast become the primary source of business income for millions of companies worldwide.
Having an online presence for your business opens up a multitude of possibilities and introduces you to a global audience, which in turn can contribute to your business’s continued success. However, this introduction to a worldwide platform can make your business vulnerable to risks such as copyright and trademark infringement, security, and fraud issues. It is therefore vital that your business is legally protected against any potential issues.
Here, Rhys Ap Gwent a Commercial and Intellectual Property Solicitor at Greenaway Scott, offers his top tips on ensuring the security of your business online.
Protect your intellectual property
Investing in an online start-up company is no small feat. Branding, research, development, and collateral can be costly. As such, ensuring your intellectual property (IP) is protected from the start to avoid any infringement is essential.
Your unique idea is your business’s selling point. Prior to registering your idea it is important that you undertake sufficient market research of your own to ensure that you do not unintentionally breach another brand’s IP.
Once you are satisfied that your idea / brand is unique you should ensure that any name, graphic, logo, unique edit or identifiable brand is protected by trademark or copyright through an application to the Intellectual Property Office. Registering your IP ensures that you alone can profit and enjoy any commercial benefits associated with your brand and puts you in a legally superior position should your IP ever be threatened. An application to register IP can be complex and we would advise you to seek legal assistance to guide you through the process.
Customer privacy and data collection
As an online business you have a significant responsibility to maintain the privacy of customers who are entrusting you with their confidential information. Millions of people make online transactions ever hour and do so with the reassurance of knowing their details are secure. Whether it be bank details, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses, online businesses must ensure the information that they keep is protected.
Customers using your online services are offered legal protection under the Data Protection Act. As a business, you are obliged by law to keep your customers information secure, accurate and up to date. You should also ensure that you do not exceed the statutory time limit for holding onto data and ensure that any data held is made easily available to the customer concerned where necessary. The Data Protection Act states that where a customer is supplying information to your company, they have a right to know how that information will be used, and whether it is being passed on to any third parties. Your customers should also be provided with the opportunity to review the information that you hold, and be able to correct it if it becomes outdated or is incorrect.
If you collect personal information from anyone you are legally required to register with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and comply with the Data Protection Act.
Protecting your security
Ensuring your website is secure online is a given for any company operating through the internet.
However, the Official Department for Culture, Media and Sport revealed that approximately 46% of all UK registered businesses were effected by cyber-attacks in 2016. This amounts to almost half of all UK businesses which were hit by some form of online breach, almost double the figure reported for the previous year.
This clearly demonstrates the importance of effective online security measures in an increasingly digital marketplace.
Business owners can safeguard their website by ensuring that software updates are installed as soon as they become available. If the software update relates to a security issue, waiting to update it could leave your website vulnerable.
Introducing tougher admin criteria will also help to protect the business. Choose a difficult password and username that a potential hacker could not guess and ensure that all passwords are changed on a regular basis. Also change the default database prefix to something more difficult to access.
Reducing the number of login attempts can also help to significantly slash the risk of any unwanted access.
The information contained in this articles are for information purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal advice. If you require further information or advice in relation to any intellectual property matters our Commercial and IP team at Greenaway Scott would be more than happy to assist you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 029 2009 5500 to speak to one of our experienced legal advisors.