It’s no secret that the internet is more extended Security Tips for Small Business Handling Online Payments, a safe place thanks to the escalating number of attacks around.
Interestingly most of us tend to imagine that attackers love going for the big fish, but this is not true. Small businesses are even more prone to cyber-attacks, because they are many in the pond, and they are always the weaker links.
However, there are many ways to prevent attacks and promote security, including small businesses accepting card payments by a phone credit card reader app.
This means that if you own a small business, then you should still work to seal off your business perimeter from cyber-attacks. But how do you do it with limited resources? One place to start is to secure payment transactions within your business infrastructure, and we have some tips for you!
Why Should Small Businesses Secure Transactions?
If you are one of those many businesses that underestimate the dangers of data breaches, you have to think twice if you take a look at some of the recent stats in data breaches.
For instance, in 2016, it was estimated that data breaches had increased by a whopping 40% while it was also the year that saw the most massive data breach ever reported, affecting more than 1 billion Yahoo accounts!
As expected, things got even messier in 2017, with lots of significant companies being attacked, the most notable ones being the likes. E-Sports Entertainment, Xbox 360, PSP ISO, Intercontinental Group Hotels, Arby’s, River City Media, Gmail, Verifone, Dun & Bradstreet, Saks Fifth Avenue, UNC Healthcare, and America’s JobLink to name but a few.
Long story short, you don’t want to go down that road-it can bring your business down to its knees. Don’t get scared though, here are some simple things you can do to start protecting your transactions from “salivating” attackers.
1- Protect Your IT Environment
As a small business, there might be little resources to protect your IT environment but you can still do some things.
For instance, you can use Comodo SSL Certificate for website security. Comodo is one of the most leading & trusted Certificate Authorities and issues SSL certificates after validation of website or business.
SSL certificate is used to encrypt data travelling between the customer’s web browser and your server; thus, any payment information spanning in this paradigm will be obfuscated from any eavesdroppers.
You can also tokenize data if you can-this the process of removing data from the system and replacing it with an associated value. This way, if someone manages to break into your storage locations, they don’t easily access original data.
You should also update your systems frequently to fix any bugs that might present loopholes for attackers.
We are talking about things like WordPress, Shopify, your server’s c-panel, SQL, PHP, or your antivirus software or any other system or tool in your IT environment.
2- PCI DSS Compliance
If you are handling credit cards, then the first thing you have to do is be PCI DSS compliant.
PCI security standards are technical and operational standards defined by the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) with the aim of protecting cardholder data. So how do you ensure that you comply with these standards? It might be a headache for many small and medium businesses, but you can check how you can comply by taking a Self Assessment Questionnaire.
3- Educate Employees about Data Breaches
Data experts and security professionals concur that employees are the weakest in the quest to secure businesses against attacks. In 2016, the Experian-a Data Breach Resolution provider did a data breach survey where it was established that either through negligence or if they fall prey to phishing attacks.
It was more or less the same feat in a study done by Keeper Security and the Ponemon Institute, which found that careless workers were behind the rise in ransomware attacks. 79% of the small and medium enterprises who admitted cases of attacks also revealed that the attacks were done via duping employees into clicking a malicious link.
This is just the tip of the iceberg but it shows that it’s time to focus on the employee. It’s not just about telling them to sign a security policy or something of that sort. It is about behavioural change en route to creating a security culture within the business. You can start by conducting regular training on the essence of being cautious of data breaches. Face to face training is the best, in this case, to ensure that employees wrap their heads around the issues at hand. Moreover, you should repeat the process perhaps, quarterly, to encourage a ‘security-first’ perspective from employees.
You can also go as dummy phishing the employees if you have enough IT resources. This will help reveal the areas of training you need to improve or even employees that need more attention.
4- Steer Away From Storing Payment Data
It would help if you also desisted from storing any payment data you don’t need. In fact, It would help if you always rid of that payment info you don’t need. If you must keep any payment data, then you should do so under proper strategies to protect any attackers from them. Some regulations, such as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA) prohibit you from storing and sharing information like your customer’s full credit card numbers and the corresponding expiration dates.
5- Beware of Your Partners
Outsourcing and partnerships are a norm in business, but you should be wary of sharing your contentious data with a partner who hasn’t implemented the right security measures. This may be a payment processor or even an e-commerce platform. You should always go for the most reputable partners around and if you are not sure, then make a point of doing some research from open source platforms like Consumer Affairs and The Better Business Bureau.
In conclusion, payment security is a continuous process that calls for an evolution in data protection strategies, particularly with ever-evolving technology. This means that you should always keep abreast of new techniques to stay ahead of attacks. Of course, SMBs run on limited funds, but some of the resources should be channeled towards supporting the business safe!
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