Friday, August 16, 2019
You don’t have to be a cyber superhero to put a stop to cybercrime. (Although that’d be pretty cool if you were.) And if you’ve read some of our other blogs or follow us on social media (which we hope you do), you know that even small and growing businesses are at risk of ransomware attacks. In a 2017 small and midsize business study, 61% of companies experienced a cyberattack within the last year. Here are 8 tips for you to protect yourself and your customers from a hack attack.
Kind of like the sage advice “If you don’t want to get bitten by a shark, don’t go in the water,” the best way to keep thieves from stealing sensitive customer data is to simply not have the data in the first place. Only collect customer data that you really need, and only keep it for as long as you need it.
It’s best to avoid collecting and storing customer credit card information on your own servers. Credit card info is like that warm pie cooling on a windowsill that thieves (and cartoon characters) can’t help but try to steal. An easy way to eliminate the threat and fallout of a data breach is to use a third-party system like Square or PayPal. Or, if you’d rather not pay their transaction fees, you could opt for something like a Managed Network Security solution from Kinetic Business by Windstream and take advantage of advanced, PCI-compliant security measures and 24/7 customer support.
What does “SSL” stand for? Secure Sockets Layer. What does that mean exactly? Don’t worry about it. Just make sure that SSL certificates are being used on your website’s checkout, signup, and customer login pages. You—and your customers—will be able to tell because your URLs will start with “https.” As customers are becoming more aware of credit card and identity theft, showing them that you prioritize their security will help build trust in your brand. If you aren’t currently using SSL, talk to your web hosting provider or IT guy to get everything squared away.
Don’t take any chances. Always encrypt your passwords and all sensitive information in case your data ends up in places it shouldn’t. If you need to store customer data on your laptop or computer, encrypt your hard drive. This way, even if your computer is stolen or lost, your customers’ data won’t be compromised.
We know that those easily ignorable software update alerts can be annoying, but delaying updates can put your business at risk. Software updates often include fixes for bugs that could leave you exposed—and since bugs are bad, fixing them ASAP is good. It’s especially important to update any credit card or shopping cart applications you may be using.
When creating accounts on your site, make sure that customers are using strong passwords with a set minimum number of characters. Ideally, passwords will be at least 8 characters and contain a combination of numbers, symbols, and both upper and lowercase letters. Advise customers to not create frequently used passwords they may have for other accounts. For additional account protection, you can add two-step verification (often via text or email).
Review your employee authorizations, and make sure that people have access only to the data they need. If employees keep data on their personal computers, consider restricting them from taking them home. Employees who work with sensitive data should be knowledgeable about best practices for storing and disposing of data (including Tip #1).
Most likely, keeping your online security up to date is not a top priority. (In fact, it probably falls somewhere between “identify who keeps leaving dirty dishes in the sink” and “order new business cards.”) But it is of the utmost importance to your customers and, therefore, to your business. Schedule regular checks and balances to make sure your system isn’t compromised. If you or any team members are unable to routinely manage security, you may want to consider outsourcing or a managed service. The time and investment you make now will be much cheaper (and less damaging) than the cost of a cyberattack or lost costumers.
Whether you manage data security in-house or outsource it, it’s important to have a capable ally standing guard. To enlist the help of a Security Super Team or patch up any weak points, check out Kinetic Business by Windstream’s network security solutions.