Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What You Need to Know About Data Security

When it comes to data security, you might think you have enough safeguards set up to defend your small business. After all, you most likely regularly update your antivirus software and other security protocols as well. And it's not as if you're a large organization that has to worry about having their systems breached by sophisticated hacking techniques. With tens of thousands of sensitive customer records on file, these big firms are the ones who must worry about cyber attacks, right? In fact, digital thieves have significantly escalated their efforts in relation to stealing from small businesses. To help you learn more about your level of danger, let's look at this important topic in greater detail below.


Small firms: low-hanging fruit

Regrettably, small businesses make easy targets, so hackers are starting to focus on them. Small firms are quick hacks and the criminals can make more hacks at a quicker rate. With increased chances, their odds of stealing beneficial information goes up dramatically. As a small company, you may not think you have any valuable information, but in today’s world even the simplest information can be used to do damage to someone else. Credit card purchases are the most common targets of cyber criminals. Every time your system runs a transaction, it must validate the cardholder’s information. This information can contain card numbers, addresses, names, and more. Your customers don't want this information stolen!

How hackers gain access to your data

Even though you probably have systems in position to defend your data, hackers will make use of multiple points of entry, so firewalls alone might not be enough. Malicious 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. Apart from these more high-tech tactics, cyber criminals also use low-tech way to steal information. Phone calls or even personal visits by someone posing as a network administrator or security firm can be detrimental. We all hope our employees are smart enough not to fall for an apparent phishing scam, but it only takes one slip up to open yourself up for attack.

The buck stops with you

You may believe that preserving your data security isn't that important, as the credit card companies are liable for any fraudulent charges that occur. While this is true for the consumer, as a business owner you could experience a very different result. Often if your systems have been compromised, they will hold you responsible for finding the breach. This may cost thousands of dollars and can ruin your profit margin for the whole year. In truth, some small businesses have been bankrupted by cyber attacks, closing their doors because of just one incident.

An ounce of prevention…

Data security is very important and any extra precautions you can take would be wise. Use strong passwords and update your existing security systems often. Educate your staff on safety measures they can take, such as creating strong passwords and never giving out login information. Hiring an outside consultant to help you ensure you and your client’s information is safe is another good idea. Simple measures can give you peace of mind that your systems are safe, and your clients will know you have their best interests at heart.

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