Who is controlling you online?
Future proofing your business
One of the most common problems I come across when working with new clients is the astonishing lack of control they retain of their own accounts. Now I am not trying to lay blame here and there are two sides of the coin as is so often the case.
From the business owner or company point of view there is often a lack of control and understanding. If you, the business owner or project manager, are employing a third party contractor or professional to do some technical work or specific tasks for you then you might be forgiven for not thinking about how you can access and control the work that has been completed in the future. If you do not understand what the professional has done then you would not even know that an account has been created or that you will have to return to the professional for further services in the future because of this. From the contractors point of view it could be their policy to retain control so they do not risk their work being tampered with, deleted or being attacked by online hackers/viruses. It also might make good business sense so they can sell further services in the future. But, in my opinion, it could also be classed as unethical practice for a third party to retain control of a company account even if the company themselves are unaware of this.
I have most often experienced this with web designers who keep access to webmaster tools (now the new Google search console), login for ftp (back end website work) and Google analytics. The owner of the website will be added as a user but not with full administrator control. They only discover this when asked by a marketing consultant or in house team member for amendments or access. In some cases the web company will charge for making changes to users on the accounts too.
Best practice in these situations would be to always check that you are future proofing your business when any work is completed by a contractor – ask the question in writing “can you please ensure I have full administrator control of all accounts created under my company name and provide the logins to me?”
The types of accounts that are often created on a company’s behalf might include the following –
- Google analytics – so much data can be lost due to a lack of control of the website analytics. As a user you can also not see who is the administrator of the account, this means that despite being able to access the account you are not able to find out who has created and has ownership of that account. Who does the account belong to? The person who created it or the company?
- Domain registration and hosting (remember to ask for it to be created in your own company account not in the account of the web company) This is often the first mistake made by new business owners as they set out on the exciting journey of creating their business.
- Social media accounts, policy, access (ensure staff create accounts not linked to their own email addresses or personal accounts)
- CRM, roles, permissions ( creating restrictive roles and permissions within your CRM system will help with sensitive data access and overall account controls)
- Dropbox, Drive (secure document storage is essential to align with data protection for the country you are working in but also be aware of where they are storing your data)
- Email – spam and collection laws (are you abiding by the laws of email marketing and communicating with your target audience? Did you know that these vary depending on whether your business is B2B or B2C? What is considered opted in and what proof are you likely to need should there be a complaint?) I happens more regularly than most people realise. Are you able to provide proof of where your subscribers have signed up?
You may be surprised to know that many third party software providers, analytic, social platforms and email suppliers online give control to the person that created the account not to the company. So who owns your online reputation? Business owners need to be vigilant.
There are many aspects to future proofing your business and being mindful of who is taking control of your business online is one of those areas that is often neglected. At the end of the day it all comes down to trust, we put our trust in professionals whom we employ to work on behalf of our business, too often they may not share your passion for your business and are more interested in making follow on sales – they need you to need them, by retaining control they achieve this. Make it clear from the start that you need to have full access at all times and all accounts created will need to have you added as an administrator.
If you would like to discuss how to future proofing your business or grow your business drop me a call +44 (0)1747 830965