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Unfortunately, the Internet can be a place where theft and hacking poses as big of a threat as it would at a brick and mortar storefront. Cyber security and crime are topics many small business owners don’t know about, and if you’re doing business online, understanding the possibilities for theft and how to avoid or prevent them can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars if a breach were to hit your neck of the woods.
The Federal Communications Commission recently published a few cyber security tips businesses should consider in order to protect their data, employees, and customers while doing business online.
The first is to create programs that correctly train your employees in basic e-commerce security principles. This can range from simple concepts like creating memorable, complex passwords that are harder to hack, to understanding federal and state penalties and rights when it comes to a data breach. Employees should know how to protect their own data as well as your customer’s information because it will establish your credibility in the online marketplace and retain your reputation when breaches and hacks happen.
Second, businesses should be mindful of the quality and amount of privacy software installed on their computer system. Each machine should include a form of firewall, a web browser protection that screens certain websites before opening them, an up-to-date point of sale and operating system, as well as software to keep any online transactions encrypted and secure. Traditional antivirus software is also important to look into. Installing these kinds of programs may cause a large expense one month, but it’s more than worth the peace of mind and safety of knowing your cash is secure.
Beyond you business’ security software, be sure to take steps to secure mobile devices and the personal computers of your employees, in the event they use them for work purposes. This can be difficult because mobile devices are more personalized and hold more sensitive information, now protected by things like fingerprint lock codes. Always require your employees to protect their data with passwords and lock screens and avoid public networks unless their phone is protected by a mobile security application.
If you truly can’t trust the online marketplace fully, feel free to copy and write down any important access codes, passwords, or information pertaining to your business and lock those documents up in a safe. Then, set a standard of backing up your system data once a week or once a month. This essentially means moving all files and data to an external or secure hard drive in case of a primary system failure. For this, you can use physical hard drives or a sort of cloud system to be sure any deleted files are not ever really gone.
Finally, take care of your money and your customers’ money. Keep in contact with your bank about transactions and account activity, so they can keep you up to date with security requirements, and keep a computer or device handy that’s used only for taking payments and completing transactions.