Katie Brenneman 3m 719 #customerdata
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Image Source: Unsplash
As technology and the way that we do business continue to evolve, so do the threats posed by cybercriminals. As a corporation, it is your responsibility to protect the data of your customers at any cost. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t have the tools and knowledge necessary to avoid a data breach, and that is a major issue.
Let’s talk a bit about why cybersecurity is so important and the preventative measures that you can put in place today to stay in good standing with your customers.
There are many reasons why you need to make cybersecurity your immediate focus as a small business. The most significant reason is that hackers are after you. They know that you either don’t believe that your organization can become a victim or that you don’t have the resources to properly protect your data. That is why 43% of all data breaches involve a small business.
Even if you consider your company to be a small fish, your organization has one thing in common with the major corporations who have also been hacked: You store valuable customer data that can be harmful if stolen. Everything from social security numbers to email addresses can be used to make fraudulent purchases, sold on the black market, or used for future phishing scams.
Your company is likely pulling in customer data even when you don’t realize it. Your sales campaigns utilize personal client information, including names and addresses. Your company also likely gathers customer analytics to understand your market and sell your products. If you do not properly store that information and it is leaked, then customers will lose faith in your organization and shop elsewhere.
The most important step to preventing common issues is to educate your team on the threats so they know what to watch for and actions to avoid. One of the most common hacker tactics is the phishing email. They send a message that looks official but includes a link or attachment that, when clicked, opens a door for the hacker to get into your network.
Hackers may also try to send an email where they pretend to be the owner of a company or even your own accounting team. Then, they may ask for a fake invoice to be paid. A new or uninformed employee is then intimidated to allocate the funds to the criminals. Your staff must be educated to be cautious when they get unexpected emails and to read the sender’s info to ensure that the message really came from a legitimate company. If there is anything suspicious, then management must be informed.
Many cybercriminals also put viruses on random websites, and if an employee clicks around, they could accidentally download the malware. For that reason, management should restrict employees from accessing any websites that they don’t need for their jobs. Your team must be informed to never plug a USB device that they don’t own into their computer, or they could get infected with a hacker’s code.
Even if your employees don’t know about every potential threat, they can prevent many hacker tactics by practicing common-sense security measures. For instance, employees should use complicated passwords that include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
Protecting data is also important when sharing information with customers. When sending a file, it is a good idea to send that data in a password-protected PDF. In addition to keeping confidential company data out of malicious hands, your customers will also appreciate that you take your cyber protection seriously.
Your organization should also have technology that will prevent cyber threats. That includes a strong firewall, a virtual private network that will encrypt all incoming and outgoing data, and a good antivirus program. Use the latter to run scans several times per week. All of this software must be updated regularly to protect your network against the latest hacker tactics.
As you can see, it is very important that you prioritize data security, and you can do it by educating your employees and following these tips. Consider this advice and continue your operations with the confidence that your customers are protected.