What are the risks of digitalising your business?

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A hand coming out of a laptop and holding a red sign saying error spelt wronglyIf not properly planned for, certain risks might spoil the transition of your business into the online world.  Information is stored and transmitted much faster and must be managed in a completely different way to paper or internal systems.

Here, we run through the risks and how to plan to mitigate them.


It is worth considering the increased risk to privacy due to how easy it is to transfer data from one place to another.  As a business owner, you have a duty to avoid potential loss of control over customer data and business information:

Customer Data

Accidental sharing of a customer's personal information could endanger your company's reputation, risk prosecution under the Data Protection Act if it is not rectified, and - most urgently - might put the customer at risk of identity theft, theft of money, or of unwanted visitors at their home address.

Watch this video: Data protection explained in three minutes from the UK Government's Information Commissioner's Office

Protect your customers' privacy by following these tips:

  • Never share a customer's personal details publically on social media, even in response to them asking you a question.  Every post must be assumed to be public even to those who do not follow you.  As them to contact you over a safer communication channel such as telephone or email, giving them the number to ring or address to email.
  • If you have to share the personal details of a customer within your company, select only those who need it. Use a need-to-know basis for sharing spreadsheets with customer data or information in emails.
  • Protect customer details held on your website by asking the company that hosts your website to put the whole website on a secure server.
  • Write and publish a Privacy Policy to show your customers how much care you take over their information.


Business Information

Protect your business information by:

  • Keeping sensitive information about future plans secret by only discussing them at the workplace or over secure phone calls or video conference calls.
  • Checking who you are talking to before sharing information via email or other communication technology.
  • Train staff to avoid scams such as phishing and social engineering.

Despite you and your staff taking care, there are many things that can take the control over your personal and business information away from you, things such as

  • Hackers might attack your website and steal either bank account details, customer data to sell one, or sensitive plans as industrial espionage.
  • Viruses may be the cause of a lot of data surrounding future products and client/ business data being lost.
  • Other types of malware could also delete or steal your data
  • Ransomware could encrypt your data, and charge you to decrypt it for a huge sum of money usually in bitcoin.

You can do your best to mitigate these risks as explained in the following section:


You must take security seriously when dealing with business data, increasing your security reduces the risk of anyone ransoming off your data or selling it to unknown companies. This is known as hardening your computer hardware and networks. You could also be at risk of a DDOS attack which could shut down or even delete your website or company system. Things such as VPNs are a great way of encrypting data when dealing with important data, it stops anyone from intercepting the data traffic.

Here's a short video summarising why it's important and how to protect your business information:

See also Email security


A business must uphold a good reputation and comply with all legal issues and legislation, if they don’t do so this could end up with a loss of customers, employees and partners. Legal action could also be taken if the data breach is severe enough, leading to prison time or maybe financial trouble.

Audience exclusion

A business must not exclude a certain group of people or be biased towards another, this could slow down employment rates and diversity within the workplace. If a company doesn’t support the majority of people or try to be inclusive the customer interaction rate will decrease. It is also against the law.

See more on inclusion under What to consider in order to meet customer and end-user needs

Insufficient business resilience

When something goes wrong in a business such as a data breach or a new system is set in place the company must be able to deal with change or it will be lost in the expanding businesses around it. Also, the reputation will decline if they don’t respond properly. Legal action can be taken if they don’t try to either improve the security in the business or just let people take customer data.

See business continuity for how to mitigate for this.

Technical Standards

If the systems or computers are not up to spec for the company’s purpose they may not be able to run effectively. This could lead to employee complaints about how they can't perform their jobs effectively, which could lead to vacancies.  It could also lead to customer complaints if this causes delays.

Data Centre Fundamentals and Cloud Storage Explained:

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