7 steps to keep your business safe and sound when using AI tools
Warren Bonheim, Managing Director at Zinia

As businesses start using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to boost their business, it’s like opening a box of magic tricks— it can do wonders! But just as with any powerful tool, there's a flip side. It's crucial to keep an eye on how these new tools might expose your business to risks. 

Imagine an app that uses AI to sift through heaps of data to spot trends and give you insights. Sounds great, right? But if it’s not well-guarded, it’s like leaving the back door open for cyber criminals. 

These technologies offer opportunities for innovation and improvement in your business; however they also introduce security vulnerabilities, especially when it comes to protecting sensitive business data or private information.

Warren Bonheim, Managing Director at Zinia, a leading IT technology group and Managed Services Provider, advises: “AI loves data. It needs lots of it to work well, which means it can access tons of sensitive info, and we need to make sure this data is locked up tight.” 

Many AI tools use third-party platforms to store or analyse your data, and they may not always have stringent security protocols, leaving sensitive information vulnerable. 

“Sometimes, the biggest slip-ups come from our own team. Simple mistakes, like setting up privacy settings incorrectly, losing devices, or unwittingly granting permissions to malicious apps, can invite trouble,” he says.

Bonheim shares his 7 steps to keeping your business safe and sound when using AI tools:

  1. Make clear rules about how to use AI safely. By establishing these "house rules" for your technology, you'll help protect your business from risks and make sure everyone knows how to use AI tools responsibly and effectively.

And remember, it's perfectly okay if you're not sure how to set all this up on your own. It’s smart to bring in an IT professional to ensure everything is set up correctly and securely.

  1. It’s super important to make sure everyone on your team knows about the risks and the right ways to use AI technologies. Having regular training sessions isn’t just about rule-following—it’s about helping everyone spot security risks before they turn into real problems. Plus, when everyone’s clued in on the best ways to handle these tools, it’s one of the best shields you can have against data breaches. 
  2. Block all unwanted AI tools on your firewall and disallow non-approved users from making these decisions without the proper due process or knowledge. Some AI tools also take notes of meetings, often where teams discuss strategic activities related to the business, these too need to be controlled through policies and using approved vendors.
  3. Steer clear of free AI tools—most of them can share your sensitive data, making it pretty much public. It's like leaving your diary open on a park bench; anyone can peek. If privacy is a big deal for you, it might be worth it to invest in a paid service that promises better security.
  4. When you bring in third-party AI tech you’ve got to be really picky about who you team up with. Make sure they’re good with security. Going with partners who’ve got a solid rep for protecting data can really cut down the risks that come with handling and storing your info on their platforms.
  5. It's smart to do regular check-ups on your AI tech. These security assessments help you spot any weaknesses, whether it’s with the devices themselves, how data is sent back and forth, or how it’s stored. Catching these issues early means you can fix them before they turn into bigger problems, helping you steer clear of security headaches.
  6. Use tools like encryption, which is like a secret code for your data. When you send or store info through your AI tools, encryption scrambles it up so only the right people can read it. And don’t forget about beefing up your access controls, too—things like multi-factor authentication and strict permissions make sure only the folks who really need to, can get into your sensitive stuff.

Using AI is exciting, and it’s all about learning as you go. Staying informed about security and putting these simple steps into action will help you enjoy the benefits of AI without the worry. It’s not about fearing the new but being smart about it!