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Many businesses, especially small businesses, underestimate the danger their company’s data is in. They have the idea that because they’re fairly small, no one would want to try to steal the customer information they collect. After all, why go after a few thousand customer records when you could attack a large corporation and potentially walk away with tens of thousands?
Unfortunately, this reasoning is wrong. Large businesses have much more money to spend on their network protection, and hackers assume (sometimes wrongly) that they will not be able to break through that security. Instead of going after the more challenging, but larger amounts of data, they go for the easy hit. Hackers attack smaller businesses assuming that they can quickly get in and steal customer data. They believe it’s easier to attack more small businesses than one large corporation. They’re often right.
That’s why you need to do everything you can to bolster your customer data security. Never assume you’re safe just because you’re a small business. Instead, follow these tips to reduce fraud and protect your data.
More Data Requires More Protection
Many businesses are collecting much more data than they ever have before, but they’re still using the same security methods. As data grows, you have to grow your security system, too. Otherwise, you’re simply taking a risk with your customers’ private information. This is just one of the many different network security tips that small companies don’t understand or don’t take seriously enough.
Along those same lines, you also have to take into account the structure you’re using to store your data. Most small companies set up their customer database to handle a certain amount of information. As they move from small data into the world of big data, that database may get overloaded. Don’t be afraid to restructure your entire data storage system. An overhaul may not only make it more efficient, it’s likely to also make it more secure.
Build Online Sales
Once you show your customers that you are serious about protecting their data, they’re more likely to want to do business with you. They will be more confident that you understand how important it is to protect customer data. This helps build your customer loyalty in addition to reducing your own risks.
Once you’ve upgraded your security, you can begin building up your online sales. With little or no reason to be confident in your security measures, many customers are very cautious about giving you their credit card information. Once you show that you have addressed the threats that hackers and viruses represent, that may no longer be true. This is especially important for those businesses that rely on online sales for most or all of their income.
Use the Right Technology to Protect Your Data
Before you can build your customer loyalty to improve your online sales, you do have to implement new security measures. In addition to examining your data structure and determining how it could be improved, you also need to look at your security software. Are you using the right firewalls? What type of authentication protocols do you have in place? How are your user accounts set up?
All of these and other questions are vital to improving your security. You also want to think outside the box. There are many other types of security software you can implement as well. For example, you can use a to scan and protect your network from intruders.
This software will constantly monitor your system and alert you if someone tries to break into your secured information. This helps provide your customer data from a number of threats. It can be particularly useful in today's bring-your-own-device culture. You must have some way of protecting your network from the threats your own employees bring in on their phones, tablets, and other devices.
With mobile data, the cloud, and other storage devices now being used, you may need to consider how you protect that data. Passwords, which have long been considered the best type of protection, may not be the best option now. Consider additional protection measures such as authenticator tabs and biometrics.
Don’t Rely on Technology Alone
However, while technology is very important in protecting your customer’s data, remember it’s not the only factor. You also need to make certain that your data is stored in protected locations. It’s possible to experience data loss due to your servers being physically compromised. You need to make certain your employees are vetted before being given access to key parts of your network. Make sure your servers are locked down and only accessible by those who need to physically work on them.
You also need to look at your policies and procedures, too. Your employees need to understand what types of risks they are facing and how they are to deal with those risks. You should have clear password policies, of course, but you also need to make certain employees know how to handle other situations that they might not think of. For example, what should an employee do if they lose their company phone, tablet, or laptop that had sensitive information stored on it? How should those devices even be checked out? You need policies for all of this.
Don’t Underestimate Risks
It might seem extreme, but in today’s BYOD culture, risks walk through your front door every day. If your employees are bringing viruses into the network, it’s likely your security system isn’t even looking at these threats. Always assume you’re going to be attacked, and never assume your firewall is going to protect you. Businesses should think in terms of when rather than if—instead of saying if we get hacked, prepare yourself for when it occurs. Yes, there’s always a chance it won’t, but if you assume it will, you’ll be better prepared.
Know Where Your Data Is Located
Finally, make sure you know where your customer data is being physically stored if you’re using an off-site cloud or other types of server. This way, you’ll be able to prepare yourself in the event of a natural disaster or other problem hits the location where the cloud servers are located. If you know your data is going to be inaccessible, you can better plan for how to handle your daily operations.