SMBs often assume that cyber attackers wouldn’t target them. In the past, that was mostly true. Cybercriminals would focus almost exclusively on big brands with significant financial resources. Unfortunately, the tide has turned for small businesses.
Statistics show that cybercrime costs SMBs more than $2.2 million a year. Due to their small size and limited resources, 60% of victims’ businesses close down in 6 months following the cyber attack. Sensitive data hidden behind weak online security is an irresistible bait for hackers. If you have any Fortune 500 companies as clients, you’re at even greater risk — you become an easy entry point to a much bigger fish.
If you’ve already done a cybersecurity audit and implemented essential cybersecurity strategies, that’s a great start. Online transactions, however, are a point of particular vulnerability and you’d be wise to pay extra attention here. Luckily, securing business online transactions is not rocket science. With a little bit of diligence and some good planning, you can upgrade your transaction security relatively fast.
Limit Access To Sensitive Information
It’s simple: the more people have access to sensitive information, the bigger the chance of a data breach. Make sure only people who really need it have access to your banking and financial information.
If you’re using a password manager (which, by all means, you should), this is easy to keep track of with vaults. A dedicated vault for finance lets you control who has access to the most sensitive information, share logins in a safe environment, and withdraw access at any time.
Encrypt Your Transactions
The Internet is essentially a vast open space where anyone with sufficient tech expertise can tune in to data flow. You don’t want third parties to listen in to any information you’re sending across, but especially so when it comes to business transactions.
Encryption protects data while it travels from the sender to the receiver. Think of it as a tunnel that runs straight from your computer to the server, obscuring the view of what’s inside to anyone else. While it’s not enough to fully protect you on its own, encryption makes up part of the core cybersecurity suite.
To encrypt your online transactions on a desktop you can use either a VPN app or a VPN browser extension. To use mobile banking apps, you’ll need to download a VPN app for your OS. The VPN creates a secure tunnel for your traffic and hides your information from prying eyes.
Secure Your Accounts
This is an obvious one but it can’t get repeated often enough — secure your accounts with strong passwords.
This is what a strong password does not look like: your company name, your HQ’s address, your tagline, the CEO’s dog’s name.
Instead, a strong password looks something like “?drddnA@]WUdcBz”. Make it random, make it long, and use a password generator if you can’t come up with it on your own.
Remember also that a password is just half of your protection. To ensure maximum security, you and your team need to enable two-factor authentication for all accounts. Try to avoid authenticating with a text message as it’s the weakest method. Instead, choose a hardware security key or an authenticator app on your phone (Google Authenticator, for example). Ensuring employee compliance on this matter is crucial.
Don’t Store Customer Payment Data
If you don’t have the data, it can’t be stolen from you. Customer payment data is a huge draw for any hacker. If your business allows consumers to do online payments, the chances are that sooner or later you will be targeted with an attack. To stay on the safe side, opt to delete payment data as soon as the transaction is complete.
You might also want to consider using a third-party data service for storage. This is a cheaper alternative to storing data in-house and typically offers better security.
Get An SSL Certificate For Your Website
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate establishes an encrypted link between a browser and a web server. When information is transmitted (such as during an online transaction) it exposes your network’s weaknesses and gives hackers a chance to intercept the traffic. SSL patches that gap and makes data transmission a lot more secure.
On top of that, Google now flags websites that don’t have an SSL Certificate as “not secure”. If your customers see that message pop up in their browser, they will be a lot less likely to carry out online transactions through your page. SSL certificates can make or break your conversion.
No matter how tight your cybersecurity is, hackers constantly evolve their techniques and come up with more sophisticated ways of circumventing our defense. In addition to upping your security, you might want to invest in cyber liability insurance.
Data breaches have driven many small and medium businesses into bankruptcy. Good cyber liability insurance can protect you from the costs associated with electronic data loss, loss of income, and extra expenses.