The global Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on economies and people from all walks of life. Everyone was forced to stay home that resorted to more teleshopping amid the pandemic restrictions—this made many businesses embrace technology and move online.
The sudden monumental shift in teleshopping increasingly made small businesses the victims of cyberattacks. The reason behind this is because hackers have realized that small businesses are not well aware of the security risks online and apply little to no effort in securing their data.
In a study by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, since 2005, more than a half-billion sensitive records have been breached. Many of those records contained sensitive data such as customer credit cards or social security numbers. The majority of those breaches came from retailers, merchants, and other small to midsized businesses.
An equally scary study made by Symantec reported that out of all the cyberattacks perpetrated in 2015, 43% targeted small businesses.
So what can small businesses do to prevent a data breach?
Data protection is ensuring that your data cannot be corrupted or accessed illegally. Here are some recommendations to secure and keep your customer and client information private:
1. Know your data
The first line of defense is knowing what you are protecting. Being aware of all the personal information you have, where you are storing it, how you are using it, and who has access to it plays a vital role in data protection.You should be able to identify the sensitive data you have, such as credit card information, and document on which computers, servers, and laptops it is stored. Keeping sensitive data isolated and segregated from the rest of your data and network makes it easier to protect.
To be able to use any data, it has to be readable and understandable. Encryption counters this by scrambling the data into an unreadable format so that only authorized parties can decode it. Encrypting your data gives you a higher chance that your information is safe from compromise in the event of a breach.It is also a good idea to have encrypted backup data. It will save you a lot of hassle in case something does happen.
3. Keep your machine secure and clean
Most small businesses have anti-virus and anti-spyware installed on their computers. It’s good, but what they often neglect is keeping them up-to-date to the latest versions and updates that can open to all sorts of data security breaches. Having the latest security software is the best defense against viruses and malware.Accessing and downloading applications from reliable sites are also critical. In an era of automation, it is easier for many attackers to trick you with enticing applications proposing to make your workload lighter. Even the most legit-looking applications may carry viruses and malware, so it is essential to know and trust the source of any app before downloading it.Another critical step is to use multiple layers of security, such as activating a two-way authentication and using spam filters. Spam filters weed out possible malware and phishing scams—many of which are targeted directly to businesses—keeping your email safer to use.
Also, if you need to use your laptop in a public place, tether it to your smartphone instead of connecting straight to a public Wi-Fi hotspot. This way, all information goes directly through your phone, giving you more security.
4. Use an SSL certificate
SSL is short for Secure Sockets Layer, a technology that safeguards sensitive data in transit across the internet. It encrypts data in transit, preventing hackers from reading it. This information could be anything sensitive or personal, including credit card numbers and other financial information, names, and addresses. Even today’s banks use an SSL as the standard cybersecurity technology to secure their websites. You will know if a website is secure by looking at the beginning of the URL. Those with HTTPS:// are secure. Web browsers now also display a padlock icon to indicate that the website is secure.As a small business, adding this important layer of security to your website will protect you and your customers.
5. Educate your employees
Company data such as accounting files that are now done quicker via automated accounting tasks are easily accessible to employees, which makes it easier for a data breach.
Putting your business online opens it to endless opportunities, but it also exposes it to greater cybercrime risks. With these recommendations, you can save your business from the cost of fixing a breach. The bottom line is, just as small businesses need to secure their physical stores, it is equally important to invest in securing their stores online.
About The Author:
|Kat is a Molecular Biology Scientist turned Growth Marketing Scientist. She’s the current Operations Director at Galactic Fed. During her free time, she loves to write articles that will bring delight, empower women, and spark the business mind. She loves to bake but unfortunately, baking doesn’t love her back. She has many things in her arsenal and writing is one of her passion projects.