Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in New York City assume that cybercriminals aren’t interested in targeting their firms. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
According to the U.S. Congressional Small Business Committee, 71 percent of cyberattacks targeted businesses with less than 100 employees in 2016. More surprisingly, 50 percent of SMBs suffered a security breach over the last one year – that’s according to the 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity Report. Fortunately for SMBs in New York City, an NYC IT support company will take several steps to secure your customers’ sensitive data. They include:
#1: Only Collect Data You Really Need
Many SMBs spend a lot of time and resources collecting useful customer data in a bid to understand their behaviors, challenges, and shopping habits. Such datasets are important, and it’s okay to keep them in your CRM in an organized manner. However, more sensitive data like credit card information, bank details, and social security numbers are not things you’ll need to determine your customers’ behaviors.
It may sound counterintuitive, but the less data you have floating around your business, the easier it is to manage, organize, and protect.
#2 Be Strict With Password Protection
Most companies use security mechanisms like firewalls and encryption to secure their databases. While this certainly makes it difficult for cybercriminals and unauthorized persons to infiltrate, the use of weak passwords can bring even the best security policies to a screeching halt.
You should also be aware of phishing scams where cybercriminals send out emails by posing as genuine organizations or business partners asking for data. Train your employees to learn how to identify such flags and never give sensitive company information to anyone.
#3: Plan for Mobile Devices
As more and more businesses embrace the idea of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), there is a need to have a documented BYOD policy to address security concerns. Wearable devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers with internet connectivity have increased target points for hackers.
A detailed cybersecurity policy will help your employees take all the necessary security precautions like setting up automatic updates and creating strong passwords for all devices they use to access the company network.
#4: Keep Everything Centralized
Once you’ve set up your security apparatus and developed a company-wide policy, it’s important to keep everything organized. Choose the right CRM system that can keep all your customer data and know the exact kind of information you have and where it’s kept. Also, avoid handwriting critical customer information like credit card numbers in your notebook or diary.
#5: Stay Up to Date with Encryption Technologies
Encryption technologies and processes evolve at an exponential rate. You should regularly review and update your encryption practices to minimize vulnerabilities to emerging security risks. Do the same with every other security-related technology to safeguard your customers’ information from cyberattacks.
#6: Limit Access to Client Information
Not all company employees need to see your customers’ sensitive data. The fewer the users with access to customer data, the less the opportunities for cybercriminals to strike at a weak point. After you’ve used customer data, consider destroying it instead of maintaining it in the cloud. This approach reinforces customer confidence in your transparency and privacy measures.
#7: Make Cybersecurity Everybody’s Business
For many SMBs, employees often wear many hats, making it essential for everyone accessing your company’s network to be trained in cybersecurity best practices. Since cybersecurity policies keep evolving as hackers become more sophisticated, it’s important to have regular updates on new protocols.
#8: Use a Firewall
A firewall is your first line of defense in cyberattacks. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommendations, all SMBs should set up a firewall to create a barrier between their data and cybercriminals. Other than the standard external firewall, many SMBs are embracing the idea of internal firewalls to add an extra layer of protection. Even if your employees work remotely, let them install firewalls on their home networks. It’s a good idea to provide firewall software and support for your remote employees to ensure security compliance.
#9: Treat Privacy as a Marketing Tool
Treat your customer privacy discussion as more than just a mandated disclosure. Look at it as a critical marketing tool. By expending more effort to protect your customer information, you’ll experience an improved level of customer trust and comfort. By extension, this can be beneficial to your bottom line.