These days, most organizations do at least some business online, as well as transmitting and storing data digitally. While there are many excellent benefits to be obtained from technological advances, such as getting access to customers around the world, enjoying improved productivity, better marketing wares, and cutting costs, entrepreneurs also have to be aware of some of the downsides of tech.
In particular, online fraud and hacking problems are bigger than ever, and cost businesses millions of dollars every year. When you run a small business, you can even end up having to close your operation if you’re disabled by cybercriminals. To help you stop this from happening to your venture, read on for some simple yet effective tips you can follow today to protect your small business.
Use Secure Payment Options and Look Out for Red Flags
First up, note that one of the key elements of any guide to credit-card fraud for businesses is making sure secure payment options are used. Look for a trusted merchant services facility that’s committed to security. Always research when choosing which firm to use, rather than just selecting the cheapest solution or first one you come across.
Helpful merchant security features include CVV2 verifications; limits on how customer data is sent and stored via the internet; encrypted data transmissions that use complex, hard-to-hack algorithms; and sites which can handle the highest-level SSL certificates.
Because there are also lots of individuals out there who will try to purchase goods and services using stolen or hacked card details or other fraudulent information, you need to be aware of common red flags. For example, orders may be suspicious if they contain several purchases of the same items, especially things people don’t need more than one of and which aren’t typical gift items; if they’re coming from a country you don’t typically get customers from; or if multiple transactions are made with the same single shipping or IP address, but using multiple cards and/or billing addresses.
Keep an eye out, too, for people purchasing an unusual variety of items, like clothing in all sorts of sizes; credit card addresses that don’t match the IP location; suspicious email accounts (e.g. those that don’t look like something a real person would use in their day-to-day life); and requests for expedited shipping when the billing and shipping addresses are different. All these things aren’t sure signs of fraud, but they can be red flags, and prompt you to do investigating further before you ship an order out.
Protect Data by Taking Security Precautions
Next, protect sensitive information by taking security precautions so hackers can’t get easy access to data. For instance, start by securing your company’s computers and networks with comprehensive security software. Choose a well-regarded product offering protection from various threats, like ransomware, malware, viruses, spam, and spyware.
Firewalls on your systems are also important, as they act as another line of defense, especially when it comes to people trying to break in using an internet connection. Your computers may already have firewalls installed on them, but often these won’t be automatically activated, so check the settings to be sure you’re covered. Alternatively, purchase a quality third-party product.
Another step to take is ensuring your gadgets, Wi-Fi network, bank accounts, merchant services solutions, and other related systems are all secured with hard-to-crack passwords. Don’t use anything hackers could guess based on your company’s name, address, or publicly-posted information (this also includes personal details, such as your family’s or pet’s names, lucky numbers, or birth dates).
Codes should be at least eight characters long, and contain a mixture of upper and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers. Get your employees to use proper passwords too, on the devices they use, and all the sites they log-in to for work.
You and your team must also update the codes you use on a regular basis (generally around every two to three months is good), as well as all the security software, firewalls, browsers, plug-ins, and operating systems you use. This helps stop hackers from using gaps in security to break into your networks or devices.
Select and Train Your Team Carefully
Lastly, always hire workers carefully. You must be able to trust your staff members, and ensure they don’t use organizational information to steal from you or your customers, or pass information on to external parties.
As well, train your team in secure practices. Employees should be taught about common scams, like viruses and malware being placed in emails or on links online; and they should know to type in URL addresses on sites needing to be logged into, rather than clicking on links which could be fraudulent. You should create a set of strict technological policies for your team to follow too.