Winter and the holidays are coming. We can feel it in the air and see it in every store aisle by now. Hopefully, you’ve taken advantage of big data in your business plan in preparation of the holiday season (if you haven’t, it’s not too late to start).
Once you've grown a stable base of customers, you need to be able to protect their data. This will ensure continued growth in customer retention as well as acquisition. With the many recent data breaches that have been reported on the news, consumers are rightfully wary of the companies they’re considering purchasing from.
An incredible amount of customer data is tracked and used by companies, and if customers can’t trust you to keep that personal information safe, your business will have a much harder time making it to the new year. Here’s what you need to know about the rising threat of online hacking and what you can do to protect your customers’ data.
Online fraud is on the rise. As technology becomes more and more advanced, hackers and scammers are coming up with new and better ways to steal your customer’s information. This becomes apparent in the increased attacks on various companies, such as ones in the clothing and food industry. Each industry suffered over 40 percent more hacking incidents than usual in 2016.
With the advent of EMV credit cards, traditional identity theft methods have transitioned more to the online sphere, where the protection the chip on your card provides becomes null and void. IoT devices are now being questioned as well with the data breach of CloudPets. This company sells stuffed animals that are able to send recorded messages from one person to another. Although the messages were not accessed, customers’ emails and passwords were.
You even have to be worried about mobile apps infecting your device with viruses when over 100 apps in the Google Play store were infected with malware. Fortunately, no one’s devices were affected, but it makes you think twice before downloading the latest mobile app.
Hackers are out there, there’s no doubt about it. The only thing that’s uncertain is whether you and your company are implementing the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your customers’ data. A lot can be learned from infamous cyberattacks from the past. Here are some ways to protect and secure your customers’ information:
● All hands should be on deck when it comes to protecting your customers’ data. Most businesses solely rely on IT services within and outside the company. Communication is not always clear to the IT department who has access to what and many employees may not have the technical knowledge to protect crucial information. That’s why companywide discussions should be held so that everyone is in the know and can keep customer information secure.
● Make sure to regularly update your company’s encryption practices. Hackers evolve as quickly as technology does. If your business implements encryption processes that are not up to date, your data as well as your customers’ is at serious risk.
● If doesn’t need to be shared, then don’t share it. Limit the amount of people that can access customer information. This will result in less opportunities for that data to be pilfered by cybercriminals.
● Be wary of implementing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. It only takes one stolen phone or laptop to be the next serious data breach in the news. However, BYOD policies are an excellent way for your business to save money. Protect your customers and your company by having employees work on devices that have secure virtual private network access when using the company’s network. Also, if an employee does lose a work device, have a policy set in place so that reports can be made and appropriate steps can be taken to prevent a breach.
● If your company deals with ecommerce at all, you need a website malware monitoring service. It can be hard to tell if your online security has been compromised. By having a malware monitoring service, you can prevent any serious losses before it is too late.
● If your business has not gone paperless yet, make sure to shred any physical documents that have customers’ personal information. Although identity thieves are tech savvy, they’re not above dumpster diving.
● Don’t just have one line of defense. Make stealing your customers’ data as hard and inconvenient as possible. Don’t only have firewalls, but also have contact forms and logins to make accessing your information as hard as possible for hackers.
● Being a data hoarder is a big no-no. The security of information greatly outweighs the convenience of stored data. By regularly removing customer data, hackers will have nothing to steal.
● Although it’s more of a hassle, have your customers choose longer, more complex passwords by using a combination of symbols and numbers. The more complicated a password is, the more difficulties cybercriminals will have trying to access that information.
Although cybersecurity has improved over the years, there are still many areas that need improvement. Identity thieves and hackers have upped their game as technology progresses, and so should you if you want to keep your customer’s data secure. By following these steps, your company and customers’ information will be safe and sound this upcoming holiday season.
Author's Bio: Brooke Faulkner is a writer by day and mother of two by night. Her sons love helping her dream up new ways to market their latest business idea. This year, the town's best lemonade stand. Next year, the world. When she's not writing, she can usually be found roaming through retail shops, thinking up clever puns to enhance their signage.