Protecting Your Customer’s Information is Now a Basic Business Practice

By on May 21, 2018

Protecting your customer’s personal and financial information is now becoming a standard business practice from ‘mom and pop’ shops to Fortune 500 companies. With companies like Target, Neiman Marcus, and others still reeling from the fallout from credit card hacks last year, it is important that you, the small business owner, stay on top of any and all ways to ensure security for your company. The downturn in sales from such a scandal can be weathered by major corporations, but be disastrous to a small company.

Many times, hackers and identity thieves will target a small company to test their malware or system, which means that though your company is unlikely to be hit by a major hack, it is at a risk for being a test subject. A good strategy to protect your customers is an excellent safety net for protecting your company from both bad customer service and bad publicity. We are going to look at several ways you can help prevent your company from being hit.

5 Tips on Protecting Your Customer’s Privacy

Always Up-to-Date Protection

Having high-quality Anti-Virus software and firewall protection is an absolute must. A quality product that is constantly and consistently updated as new threats come out will protect you from all but the most determined attacks. Bear in mind that you will want to make sure that every system in your building will need protection, including your registers if you are using a computer based model.

If you are using a subcontracted form of accepting credit card payments, such as a card reader for a smartphone or tablet or other system, be sure that they are covering their network as well. Ask detailed questions to sales reps to get the full picture of their protection before choosing a specific service. The better prepared that you are, the better off your company will be in case hacks are attempted. If finding the best solution is difficult for you, reach out to a business consultant to find the best cyber security for your business.

Strong Passwords

One of the easiest ways that hackers get into systems is through either not changing preset passwords or through easy to crack passwords. The breach at Neiman Marcus was found to come from improperly set passwords protecting systems. Most password requirements are set with 6-20 characters, but people often make two simple mistakes. Either they create a short password that is difficult to remember or they create one that is easy to remember but also easy to crack.

The best way to make a password is to create a long, but easy to remember password. If your password is “snoopy”, you can make it much harder for a computer program to crack by making it “snoopyfrompeanuts”. Password cracking programs take systematic approaches to decipher passwords, and you typically have about 70 characters to choose from (26 letters, 26 capital letters, 10 numbers, and about 8 special characters like punctuation). The more combinations that you have, the longer it will take to crack. Numbers and special characters can make it more difficult for a human to crack the code, but most intrusions come from hackers who never see the inside of your office. Lastly, don’t leave your personal passwords hidden where someone can just steal them.

Create Administrator Settings

Setting administrator settings on all of your computers that only you have control over can greatly reduce the chances of unwanted programs being added to your systems. Most companies set these restrictions so that people do not install video games on work computers, but it can also help with damaging software.

The BlackPOS malware that caused all of the trouble with major retailers last year was an installed program on all of the point-of-sale systems. By creating strict administrator settings, you can help prevent intruders from installing the data mining programs on your computers from non-administrator terminals. It will require your input whenever you need to add new software and updates, but the extra few minutes spent entering a password can help protect you in the long run.

Keep Up With Paperwork

While most threats will come from hackers over the internet, some identity thieves still do things the old fashioned way. Make sure that you are reaching out to your employees regarding safe practice procedures for your store. This involves proper storage of sensitive items in locked rooms and filing cabinets and destroying all forms in a cross-cut shredder. Talk to your financial advisor about how they destroy their documents for good methods for your business.

If you deal in a large amount of personal information, such as loan or credit applications for projects, talk to your business consultant about hiring a document service. These groups will come to your location and destroy your documents in a safe and appropriate manner. Several of those services will also provide document storage with extra protections you may not be able to afford as a small business.

Look for a Quality, Reputable ‘White-Hat’ Service

This can be a little overboard for most companies. For those that deal in sensitive data or have large amounts of private or financial information stored digitally, it can be a blessing in case someone comes trying to break in. Sometimes when you want to catch a thief, you hire a thief; in business, you go to the White Hat hackers.

White Hat hackers are people and/or companies with the same skill set as the bad guys, but who work to find the hidden ways in and tell you about them so you can protect them. They take their name from the old westerns where the hero always wears a white hat. Their job is to test your firewalls, security settings, and every other way that they can think of to get at your customer’s information. They will then report on their findings and offer solutions on how you can prevent a true breach in the future.

Making Security a Basic Business Practice

Keeping your customers’ personal information secure can seem like a daunting task, but it is easy to do. A few simple steps will make it more difficult for unsavory people to damage your reputation. Then, continually review your security procedures and educate yourself on current threats so your business can continue to offer secure transactions and excellent customer service.

Reach out to your business consultant to discuss options for best practices in customer security and data protection. If you need higher end services, talk to your financial advisor for referrals to quality service providers.

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About Harold Goldman

I am the founder of FinancialSafetyNet.org, and a Retirement Planning and Long-Term Care specialist. I am also the President of Emes Insurance Services, Inc., a Murrieta based insurance agency designed to help people with Retirement Planning and funding for College. I believe in educating my clients to become financially competent in an effort to develop plans for guaranteed income, protection against loss and tax-advantaged growth. To contact me Call (844)-376-2265

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