Effective Strategies to Protect Your Small Business from Cyber Crime

Latest News | 10.31.2016

Cybercrime is for real.

Cyber criminals are using sophisticated tools and strategies to steal your personal and financial information. Cybercrime has become one of the biggest threats we face today. Every month, we hear about at least one major data breach. The costs and consequences of online frauds are pretty high so businesses need to take effective security measures to protect their data.

Make your workplace safe

Modern workplaces use a variety of computing devices like laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Computerization has certainly improved the productivity of employees. Unfortunately, it has also made businesses more vulnerable to threats like hacking and identity theft. By exploiting the security flaws in your computing devices, cybercriminals can access the sensitive financial and personal information saved on your devices and use it to their advantage. Since cybercriminals use sophisticated tools and strategies to steal data, businesses need to do more to protect themselves.

Of course, cyber security has evolved significantly since the nascent days of the internet. Security measures that were considered excessive a couple of years ago are less than adequate today.

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting small businesses. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), small businesses that employ less than 100 people suffer an annual loss of around $155,000 due to cyber crime. And when a small business becomes a victim of cybercrime, the consequences are disastrous. Most of them shut their shop within a few months.

Small businesses might assume that they are of no interest to hackers. That is not true at all. Just because you are not a big fish doesn't mean that you are immune to cybercrime. In fact, if you look at the numbers, it is not hard to see that half of all victims of cyber crime are small businesses. Small businesses face a bigger threat because they are unlikely to have invested in sophisticated security tools. Even if you can't pump millions of dollars into building a security envelope for your business, there are several simple and less expensive ways to protect your data and business.

Here are some effective measures to protect your company from common forms of online fraud.

Use strong passwords

By simply creating a unique and strong password, you can offer significant protection to your company. Make sure that you use a separate password for every online activity. You also need to ensure that your employees are doing the same. Using the same password to login to your social media accounts, emails, and online banking accounts is a major mistake. If one account gets compromised, others too become vulnerable to security threats. And when you create passwords, make sure that you are using a combination of numbers, symbols, and lower and upper case letters.

Resist the temptation to click on links in emails

Fraudsters may send emails with malicious links or attachments. If you click on these links or download the attachments, you expose your device to malware. Even if the email was sent by a colleague or friend, it does not mean that all the links in it are authentic. Someone could have hacked into their email account and sent emails from it. When you are in doubt, ask the friend or colleague if they had an email before downloading the attachments or clicking on the links, especially if you hadn’t requested for that attachment.

Use disk encryption to protect sensitive information

Sensitive information such as bank account numbers, credit card numbers or social security numbers needs to be protected through sound encryption. Encryption will convert data into unreadable code that unauthorized people cannot figure out. You also need to ensure that customer payment details such as credit card numbers are never stored locally.

Make it necessary for customers to provide their Card Verification Value while making purchases or payments.

These 3-digit codes are only found on the back of credit cards. By simply asking customers to enter their CVV you can prevent a number of fraudulent transactions. Since only the physical card has this number, a hacker who stole credit card numbers from an online database cannot provide it and complete the purchase.

Protect your own information

Guarding your customers' financial information is important. You need to protect your accounts too. Separate your business and personal cards. Check out your account activity regularly to detect fraudulent activity at the earliest.