Five simple tips to protecting your data today.
By Greg Smith
President and CEO of Accudata Technologies
The 2013 CyberSource Online Fraud Report estimated that $3.5 billion dollars were lost in online revenue due to fraud in the U.S. Even more recently, whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden have brought cybersecurity vulnerabilities to light. Unfortunately, when compared to larger organizations, small businesses can sometimes be even more at risk due to not having the time and resources to protect themselves. Therefore, consider these fast and easy tips to protect your data, your small business and customers.
1. Encrypt your data on all devices and change your passwords regularly
Whether storing phone numbers, email addresses or more personal information such as birth dates and social security numbers, encrypting the data can be key in protecting customers. By using a program that encrypts the data, the information will be protected even if lost or stolen. Add an additional level of protection by changing passwords regularly. Although it may be simple for a hacker to break a password, the combination of ever-changing passwords and encrypted data will make it much more difficult.
2. Consider storing information on the cloud
By using a cloud storage program, data is not located in one place, such as a single computer. Instead, data can be accessed from another computer by tapping into that cloud. Although this may seem like a way to make the data more easily-accessible, most cloud storage programs have added security measures that are built into them to protect data. For example, authentication processes and authorization practices will add more levels of protection for the hacker to break through rather than a single password.
3. Back up your data regularly, but make sure your hardware is secure
In addition to encrypting data and storing it in multiple locations, utilizing back-up hardware is also important. This allows one more place where the data is stored in case it is misplaced or erased from the computer or cloud. Back up the data on a regular basis, so the information is up to date and accurate. Just be sure the hard drive with the data is in a secure location!
4. Use a third party that verifies your customers’ identities
Identity verification is of the upmost importance to both business owners and their customers. One of the main ways online fraud can occur is through a cybercriminal using a stolen identity or credit card information. Therefore, having technology in place that verifies customers’ real identities at the point of sale is an added step to help avoid fraud. Verification services, such as Accudata Technologies’, can help with this by validating a customer’s identity through their phone number. Once a customer enters their phone number, it is run through a data base which accesses data about them, such as their name and residential address. In a matter of seconds it checks to see if they match up. This verification helps prevent unnecessary fees and fraud due to a stolen identity situation and adds an extra layer of protection.
5. Educate your customers about the dangers of fraud
In order to ensure all parties are protected, educate customers about the importance of safeguarding their information. It’s important to emphasize to customers that they should never give out their personal information that would help a hacker steal their identity. Companies don’t need to ask for social security numbers or PIN numbers – they can verify the identity with simple information, such as a telephone number. This method is better for both the business and its customers because the identities can be verified in real-time, or shortly after, as opposed to days. If data has been hacked or stolen, contact customers immediately, so they can be aware of possible fraudulent charges and take any necessary actions with their bank.
Regardless of where customers are shopping – whether it be via mobile or desktop – small businesses need to have a strong defense for their e-commerce sites. These tips provide simple, easy-to-implement protection for their data that will give small business owners peace of mind when it comes to fraud prevention.
About the Author
Upon taking his position at Accudata Technologies in 2002, Greg Smith reorganized the company to meet the ever-changing marketplace and pursued an aggressive business strategy to diversify and expand the company’s services. Accudata built its network from the ground up, transforming from a single-service provider to the leading source of multiple data-validation technologies and a premier access hub for validating information associated with telephone numbers for businesses and consumers across the globe.