Cyber criminals would dearly love to get their hands on any information your online business holds – login details, bank account information, email credentials, pretty much anything you can think of.
But despite this, many firms still aren’t equipped to deal with hackers looking to steal data.
It’s tempting to take a relaxed approach to cyber security simply because you haven’t been the victim of an attack yet.
But by doing so, you are not only putting your customers at risk, but you are also gambling with the future of your business.
Small businesses are often targeted because they often take fewer security precautions than larger firms, making the data they hold easier to steal.
And if you do fall victim to hackers, the loss of trust among your customers could be enough to send your sales plummeting, leading to your firm collapsing.
As always, it makes sense to be prepared.
Know your Enemy
When it comes to keeping your online business safe, prevention is the key.
Hiring a cybersecurity consultant can help you understand the online threats that can put your company at risk.
Once you know the exact nature of the attacks you are likely to encounter, you can employ the correct measures to protect yourself.
Unsolicited junk email is not only annoying, it can also be dangerous so don’t open it.
Opening spam email can infect your work computer with viruses and malware which may allow hackers to steal your company’s data.
Make sure anyone using a computer connected to the business is aware of the damage malware can inflict so they’ll know not to read messages from untrusted sources.
In this case, hackers send fraudulent emails and set up fake websites similar to yours in an attempt to trick your customers into sharing personal data.
Here are a couple of things you can do to protect your businesses’ reputation and keep your customers’ sensitive data safe:
• Register sites with similar spelling to yours so phishers don’t have fewer opportunities to trick your customers
• Provide your customers with a specific, unchanging email address they can use to contact you
• Let people know you will never ask for personal information via email
• Use encryption software to protect customers’ financial information from theft when they purchase products from your site
• Check for unusual customer activity. Look for large volumes of purchases or password changes as this could indicate people’s accounts are being used fraudulently
Keep a Clean Machine
No matter what business you’re in or how small it is, make sure you have the latest and most reliable security software.
It’s the only way you can protect your business against viruses, malware and other digital threats.
Instead of manually updating your software, turn on automatic updates to ensure you’re using the latest version that can protect against the newest threats.
Hackers are always on the lookout for loopholes in systems that haven’t been updated with the latest safeguards, so make sure you keep on top of new releases.
It’s also important to ensure your website is free from malicious code.
Anti-hacking tools are available which will alert you of any suspicious changes to your site and for an online business having something like this in place is vital.
Limit Access to Sensitive Information
Not every single employee needs to have access to all your company information, so make sure no one can look at data they don’t need.
If you have employees working remotely, set up two-factor authentication so even if someone does get their username and password, they still won’t be able to access your systems.
For example, you can use a dongle that provides a different password every time it’s used, meaning someone must have the device in order to log in.
By limiting where and how your data can be accessed, you are reducing the number of weak spots that a hacker could potentially exploit.
Remember, the more you do to protect your data, the less likely you are to have to tell customers that someone has accessed their personal information because your business wasn’t secure enough.
It’s a case of when, not if the hackers will find your site, being prepared is the best thing you can do.
Guest post written by Alex Gavril, a member of the blog team at Webfusion.