No business, big or small, is immune to cyber security breaches. Even established companies like Wendy’s, Yahoo!, Dropbox and Snapchat have all fallen victim to data breaches. Taking the following steps to secure your business’s data can protect against hackers and even well-meaning mistakes.
Wi-Fi and Router Security
If you offer Wi-Fi to customers while they are in-store, make sure to set up a specific guest network for them to use. Your router will need to have guest network functionality so that customers can use your Wi-Fi while your business’s information stays inaccessible and safe.
Don’t forget to make sure your business’s router is secure:
- Change your network’s SSID (the name people see on their devices when they’re searching for Wi-Fi in the area) to something inconspicuous
- Change your router’s password often
- If possible, enable WPA2 encryption
If your business banks online, follow these steps to protect your online bank accounts:
- Find a bank that offers two-factor authentication when you log in. Most banks will ask you to use a security code or send you a pin (as an email or text) that you’ll have to enter to log in. Make sure your bank does this to make it harder for someone to hack into your banking accounts.
- Never do your online banking on a public network. That means coffee shops, restaurants, airports and even some coworking spaces. Only log in to your online banking account if you’re certain that the network you’re using is secure.
- Choose a strong password. Don’t use your name or the names of members of your family for your bank account and don’t use the password you use for everything else. Create a password made of a series of letters and numbers with some uppercase and some lowercase letters. Don’t forget to add a special symbol (!@#$%) or two. And change your passwords at least every six months.
- Don’t store your passwords anywhere on your computer. If you’re worried you might forget them, use a password manager to keep them safe.
- If someone claims they’re from your bank calls or emails, asking for your login information, do not give it away. Hang up the phone or delete the email. Call your bank’s customer service number to find out if it was really them calling or emailing you.
- Log out when you’ve finished banking and clear your computer browser’s cache.
When using your personal or work computers for business, be sure to take these steps to keep your business's data safe:
- Set up a firewall
- Install antivirus and anti-malware software
- Make sure you find a firewall, antivirus and anti-malware that automatically update for bug fixes and new security concerns
- Don’t open email attachments (or click links) if you don’t know the sender
- Make sure your antivirus or anti-malware software also scans websites to check that they’re trustworthy
- Make sure your computer is password protected and that you change your password every few months
- Update your operating system and platform software regularly
- Don’t install any new software without making sure it’s safe (search for “[software name] malware”)
- Backup all your files to an external hard drive
- Use encryption software for files and emails
- Make sure only trained and trusted employees and individuals can access business computers and that information is shared on a need-to-know basis
- Conduct regular cyber security trainings for all employees and keep yourself educated on current best practices
Protecting Your Customers
You may be confident that your business is secure and that customer data is safe; however, your customers might not! Here are a few ways to put your customers at ease:
- Don’t allow all your employees to access sensitive customer information. Share information on a strict need-to-know basis
- Shred or destroy customer documents when you no longer need them
- If employees have access to customer data, only allow them to access it from a work computer or a computer connected to your business’s VPN (virtual private network)
- Train employees on data security
- If you allow customers to log in to view their information, require strong passwords and a two-step authentication
- If you have an ecommerce store, use encryption software for all transactions and only use trusted third parties
Social Media Security
If employees post to your social media platforms for business purposes, it’s a good idea to keep as much of your social information protected as possible.
The best way to protect your business’s social media is to only post through a scheduling platform. Having one central platform where all relevant parties can post is more secure than disseminating your social media login credentials to multiple individuals.
If you do this, you and your employees can schedule posts and use social media to market your business, and you won’t need to share the Facebook password with every new employee and then have to change it when those employees leave.
Another idea is to outsource your social media strategy to a trusted agency. Not only will you be certain that your social media accounts and online reputation are safe, but you will save yourself valuable time while seeing an increase in engagement!
What to Do if You Fall Victim to a Cyber Attack or Data Breach
Make sure you have a plan in place in case a breach happens. Save the number of a cybersecurity expert who can help you if your business’s data becomes compromised or stolen.
Once you’ve spoken with the cybersecurity expert, inform employees, stakeholders and customers of the breach. Let them know you are taking steps to recover everything you can recover and prevent this from happening in the future.
If necessary draft up a public statement to put customers at ease. Make sure to be transparent about the breach and about what you are doing to heighten security measures.
Knowing that your business is safe from cyber-attacks can give you the peace of mind you need to keep working hard to grow your business! Assuring your customers that your business takes security and data privacy seriously builds trust and strengthens your brand.
Following all of these best practices and staying informed on new threats and protection measures could be the difference between success and unforeseen challenges.
If you’re concerned about your business’s online security, contact a cyber security expert right away!
Every digital marketing strategy that RevLocal offers is safe, secure and effective. To learn more about the digital marketing solutions we offer to small businesses and multi-location brands, visit our website and contact us for a free consultation!