What You Need to Know About Data Security

February 8th, 2012

It is easy to fall into the mistaken idea that you currently have enough safeguards in place to protect your small business. You almost certainly stay up to date with the latest antivirus software, but is that sufficient? You also probably believe that since you’re not really a huge corporation, you don’t have to worry about cyber criminals hacking into your system. But here’s the unfortunate reality: cyber criminals have upped their game and are starting to target small businesses increasingly more. Let’s take a closer look to  give you a better understanding of the level of danger your business may be under.

Small firms: low-hanging fruit

The facts are, hackers have discovered that small enterprises are easier targets, and therefore are increasingly preying upon them. They are able to infiltrate their systems at a much faster rate, and with a better percentage of success as well. This means a cyber criminal can assault multiple targets in the time it would take them to lay siege to a better-guarded system with a higher level of data security. How can it be worth their while to steal from a mom and pop operation? In today’s modern world, just about any business utilizes digital payment processing methods. Whenever your customers pay using a credit card, this data must run through your system to be validated. This represents a goldmine of data for hackers, as they can lift this information without being detected. With your customers’ credit card numbers, addresses and names, they are able to make counterfeit charges on their accounts.

How hackers gain access to your data

Even though you probably have systems in place to safeguard your data, hackers will make use of several points of entry, so firewalls alone may not be enough. Destructive email attachments are one of the biggest offenders. These attachments can leave your system wide open for data mining. This year alone in the first quarter, 6 million malware programs were found. Aside from these more high-tech tactics, cyber criminals also use low-tech means to steal information. Telephone calls or even personal visits by someone pretending to be a network administrator or security firm can be harmful. We all hope our staff is smart enough not to be seduced by an apparent phishing scam, but it only takes one slip up to open yourself up for attack.

The buck stops with you

Many people think that since credit card companies are usually liable for any bogus charges that occur from a hacking event, that data security isn’t crucial. While this may be true for a consumer, for a business owner the result may be very different. Consumers will hold you accountable personally should their information be stolen. Damage control after an attack can cost an organization thousands of dollars and in some cases a single attack can spell the end of business in general.

An ounce of prevention…

Taking extra precautions when it comes to your business’ data security is a very wise move. Continue to update your programs and passwords on a regular basis. Teach your employees good security practices like setting up strong passwords and instructing them to never give out login information or open suspicious emails. Hiring an outside consultant is another great way to ensure your clients’ information. These measures not only give you peace of mind, they tell your clients that you care about keeping them safe.

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