It doesn’t come as a surprise that almost half of all cyber-attacks are targeted at small businesses. One reason customer data become victims of cyber-attacks is the lack of a defense system in place. And the hackers usually get away with it because the targeted business does not have enough resources to combat it.
Here the need for network security software and encryption becomes vital.
The Importance of Security and Encryption
Whether you sell products online or through a brick-and-mortar store, you need to understand that knowledge is power. By now, you should be clear on the fact that you need technological safety more than ever. Here is how you can keep your customer’s data secure.
Install and Update the Right Software
Running antivirus or anti-spyware/anti-malware software is your first line of defense. But you have to make sure that it is updated regularly. Unfortunately, small businesses purchase a product they don’t need, don’t want, don’t know how to use, or don’t understand. And it just sits there.
In some cases, they purchase a product and then don’t update it. Then it becomes worthless. Hackers are constantly changing their tactics, and your odds of combatting their tactics are frequent updates. If you have the option of ‘automatic update,’ use that to run the latest software version.
Use a Secure Network To Protect Customer Data
Invest in a dedicated and secure server that only your business uses. Sharing your server may be cheaper, but you decrease the risk of leaving your customer’s data open to hackers by using a secure network. And remember to always back up your data. If you have backups of everything, you won’t be a victim of ‘ransomware,’ a kind of malware that blocks your access to data until you give the ransom.
Using encryption technology is an excellent way to safeguard a customer’s information. So, invest in a good and latest encryption software and remember to keep it updated. For example, it’s always good to encrypt the emails that you are receiving/sending.
9 Ways to Stop Data Breaches
All the businesses store and gather information from their customer data, business contacts, and employees. Unfortunately, with data breaches on the increase, hackers are looking to exploit vulnerable companies. Let’s go through some ideas that will help you tighten security to deter a data breach.
1. Make Strong Passwords
Gone are the days when easy-to-remember passwords were recommended. Instead, now it is recommended to make them long and strong. For example, if you are using a point of sale software your password should be at least 13-15 characters long. Also, don’t just write a single word. Instead, use numbers, symbols, capitalization, etc.
2. Verify PCI Compliance
If you are dealing with credit card transactions, make sure the way you are processing, storing, and transmitting cardholder information meets Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. By implementing PCI compliance at your business, customer data will feel secure knowing that their information is being handled safely.
3. Destroy Before Dumping
Customer Data breaches come right from the garbage in the alley. Recycling old papers, copies and files is a good practice. But make sure to cross shred or cut all the files before discarding them. If you want to reuse a device that had sensitive information previously, make sure to clean the drive by using data cleaning software.
Also, if your device is being decommissioned, pull out the hard drive and physically destroy it.
4. Keep only the Data you Need
Analyze all the data that you have and consider whether you need to store this information. For instance, if you are a cell phone repair shop, all your data must be in your cellphone repair shop software. If a customer hasn’t come to your shop for more than a year, wipe his information.
In addition to this, try to purge any data that is not related to your business. For example, you should think twice before storing a customer’s credit card information. You don’t need to hold onto their credit card details for more than a year. If you do, you will be creating a massive problem for yourself by doing it.
5. Physically lock up hard copies
Save your papers, files, and records in a lock. Then, add additional measures such as biometric or numeric keypad verification to boost security. It will help build confidence when potential investors are visiting your business.
6. Lock up Portable Media and Company Cell Phones
USB and Flash drives need to be tightly controlled. Make it compulsory for users to check the media in and out. And be sure to encrypt the data that is saved on the devices. Cell phones used by the company are also an easy target and can expose your company to vulnerability. It usually happens when these devices are synching or charging with a networked computer.
Again, you need to install encryption software on your company cell phones to keep your customer data and network safe.
7. Get a Plan in Place
Managing a crisis means knowing your plan of action, regardless of the type of crisis. You will need an expert who can analyze the situation and get a grip on that and how it happened. Get in touch with a well-reputed cybersecurity group and find out about the maintenance contract. They will help bolster your security plan and decrease the effect of an active data breach.
8. Put the Plan into Action
Practice makes you perfect. Since cyber-security can be daunting for your employees to handle, it’s a good idea to have them try out a few dry runs. This will make them familiar with the process that needs to be done when something like that happens.
9. Prepare for Multiple Points of Entry
You have to be clear on each step that needs to be taken and always consider the source of the break. You will have many scenarios that direct to various actions depending on the type of breach.
Spend ample money on software or cyber-security measures such as cameras etc. But everything will be a total waste if you leave the back door open. Collaborate with your security representative to understand where the most risks are.
Chances are, there will always be cyber-bullies targeting your customer’s data. But only you have the power to keep your customer’s information safe and help ensure your future sales by taking this job proactively. So, have a strong team in action all the time so that it doesn’t cost you your business.