3 Strategies for Merchants to Protect Themselves against Cyber Attacks
We’ve all heard about how damaging data breaches can be. A good example would be the 2014 breach that compromised 1.2 billion usernames and passwords, and 500 million emails. This breach was uncovered by Hold Security, an information security firm from Milwaukee, and it turns out that Russian hackers breached around 420,000 websites from around the world. How did they manage to do this? Through individual computer systems that had weak security measures, including some that belonged to Fortune 500 companies.
This should be a wake-up call for all business owners, because such attacks can lead to critical data theft. To protect against such attacks, it is crucial to implement security strategies at the company level, especially if you store any kind of confidential or sensitive customer information, whether this means passwords, SSNs or credit card numbers. In this article, you’ll learn about three strategies that will keep your business protected.
- Do not store customer data unless absolutely necessary
Credit card numbers and other sensitive customer information does not need to be stored on file for extended periods of time, and as such it’s important to implement a policy in which customer records are purged once they are no longer relevant or needed for your business. The risk of a breach is particularly high for merchants, since they have something valuable to steal. It’s best to minimize any data loss in case a hacking attack is successful.
- Have the right technology
The first piece of tech you need is a firewall protecting your network. You then want to ensure that all the passwords used to access sensitive information within the network follow best practice guidelines, such as including numbers, uppercase letters and symbols. You could also add another layer of security here with two-factor authentication. Next, make sure you have a good antivirus that targets malware as well, and that is constantly updated.
- Implement security best practices through your workforce
Once the procedures and technology are in place, you want to secure the last breaking point within your system: the workforce. Many breaches occur because of human error. Without proper training, employees might not know how to prevent a cyber-attack. Often times, information is stolen because an employee used a weak password, or due to a phishing scam. This is where employee training comes in. Make sure that best practices are understood across the company, and that employees know to use strong passwords, not to click on links from untrusted sources, and to keep personal and company data separate if they are using mobile devices such as smartphones or laptops for work. A security savvy workforce can go a long way when trying to prevent data breaches.
For more information on how to protect your business against cyber-attacks, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.