Sony, Target, Facebook... it seems that every day another high-profile company is in the news for getting hacked and having their internal communications and customer data exposed. You might think that your business isn't big enough to get hacked, but businesses of every size are a target- and the effects of a data breach on a small business could be devastating. When it comes to customer information, transparency and data security are essential. So what’s the best way to fend off hackers and maintain customer trust? Here are five tips to help you keep your customers’ information safe.
1. Remember You’re Always a Target
Don’t ever assume it won’t happen to you and your company. Complacency is the easiest way to become vulnerable to cyber attacks. Nearly half of all cyber attacks are targeted at small businesses, usually because the assumption is that they haven't taken the proper safeguard with their data.
The reality is that small businesses tend to have fewer resources at their disposal as compared to bigger companies, so they often just cross their fingers and hope for the best. Every small business, whether they’re selling products from brick and mortar set-ups or strictly e-commerce, should invest in protection for their customers and their data. When it comes to cybersecurity, you can never be too careful. A little bit of cautiousness and reasonable skepticism will take you a long way.
2. Install and, Most Importantly, Update Your Security Software
It's important to invest in quality antivirus and cybersecurity software. When it comes to hacking and cybersecurity, it’s best to trust the professionals rather than trying to tackle it on your own. Some of the best names in the business when it comes to digital protection are Avast Business Antivirus Pro, Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud, and Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security- although, as always, you should do your own research and ask for recommendations within your industry to find the best solution for your needs. All of these software options offer the type of comprehensive firewall of protection your business needs to protect customer data.
Once you have the proper software installed, it’s vitally important to update and patch that software. If you make the mistake of putting off patches and software updates, you’re leaving backdoors open for hackers to come in and compromise your customers' information. It might be annoying to have to reboot your system or schedule updates, but the benefits far outweigh the minor inconveniences.
3. Create and Maintain Strong Passwords
This one seems like an obvious, commonsense recommendation, but the simple things are sometimes the most effective. Your passwords, whether it be for your personal and work emails, your company website or access to your work computer, are the keys to the kingdom for hackers. If hackers are able to secure a password or some other backdoor into your system, that’s bad news for you and your customers.
The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to make sure your passwords are rock solid.
A password generator is one way to make sure your passwords are top-notch. Once you generate strong passwords, you’ll be locked down and safer. Since generated passwords aren’t always the easiest to remember, you should also look into a secure password management service to keep track of them for you.
4. Minimize Outside Access with Private Servers or Networks
When it comes to something as valuable as customer data, you want to put up as many obstacles as possible between those with malicious intent and that information. One of the best ways to do this is to move that information to a secured, private network or server.
Having control over your own server and private network ensures who can access it and decreases the chances of outside interference. Your IT department can keep track of everything on both the server and the network, ensuring another layer of security for your customers. By keeping that data squirreled away behind multiple layers of security, you make yourself and your business more trustworthy with people’s information.
5. Keep Testing For Vulnerabilities
This is perhaps the most important step on this list. After you’ve set up, generated your passwords, installed and updated your software and got your private network and server up and running, it’s vital not to get complacent with customers' information. With all of those measures in place, put them to the test.
None of the prior suggestions on this list matter if you just sit on your hands and hope for the best. Every business with a web presence, especially e-commerce based brands, needs to continually put itself through the ringers when it comes to ensuring its security is failsafe.
Consider bringing in ethical hackers or cybersecurity experts/firms that can root out any issues they find when examining your setup. They’re invaluable resources when it comes to finding and snuffing out coding bugs or unresolved backdoors in your systems. Run daily virus and malware scans on your work machines and encourage a culture of security and carefulness within your organization. A dam is only as good as the engineers maintaining it. Make sure you don’t miss any cracks in its foundation.
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This communication is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be an advertisement, a solicitation, or constitute professional advice, including legal, financial, or tax advice, nor is StreetShares providing advice on any particular situation.