The 3 Best Things Small Business Owners Can Do to Protect Customer Data

BY

Gloria Martinez

|

December 7, 2020

Three ways to keep your customer data safe.

Small business owners have it easier these days thanks to modern technology. Of course, this is a double-edged sword: as systems become more sophisticated, so does cybercrime. Small-to medium-sized business (SMB) owners are known to be easy pickings for cybercriminals. This is because SMBs often don’t have the expertise and budget to have data security measures in place, making their networks generally less secure compared to larger companies.

Despite this, it’s still a common sentiment among SMBs that they don’t have data worth stealing; therefore, they’re safe. After all, in a world of corporate-level cyberattacks, what are the chances that someone will target you as a small business owner? Well, you’d be surprised.

The truth is that the aftermath of a data breach can be crippling—devastating even—to a small business. Just imagine what would happen if sensitive customer data like credit card information or even your own intellectual property gets stolen. It’s definitely in your best interest to avoid this at all costs, and the following practices and products will help you do that.

Invest

A cyberattack such as a data breach can have untold, unquantifiable costs on small businesses. Investing in data security not only has the potential to save your profits but also your business reputation and the customer confidence that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. Suffice it to say, it’s a wise investment with tangible yields—and one that you really need to make.

Data security technology encompasses a wide array of software and tools. Generally, an SMB should have user-level computer security, network security, and data loss prevention software. A good cybersecurity software like Cigent will protect your data from ransomware, malware, and phishing. Of course, the technology you should get depends on your business needs, so doing your due diligence is essential.

It also won’t hurt to invest in professional help, especially if you need something more comprehensive. Whether you're looking to get quick assistance or need a data protection expert longer term, you can find and hire professionals on freelance gig sites based on the type of skill you're looking for.

Educate

It’s a fact that most data breaches and cyberattacks are the results of human error. All it takes to undo even the most cutting-edge data security technology is a careless employee unmindful of the repercussions of his actions. It’s for this reason why more companies are training their employees and contractors in IT security, and you’d do very well to jump on this bandwagon.

While it’s crucial to keep just about anyone who has access to your data educated on the many cyber threats they could face, it’s also just as important to keep them engaged. This can be achieved by enforcing safe password practices, managing the use of personal gadgets, restricting data access to key users—the list could go on and on.

The idea is for each one to be held accountable for the data in their care, and being aware of what they’re up against allows them to do exactly that.

Enforce

Just as important as education is enforcement, which is why it’s necessary to document your cybersecurity protocols. Unfortunately, most small businesses tend to overlook this, as it’s far easier to just talk to each other. But we all know that a lot of things can get lost in translation.

It’s important, therefore, to have a data security policy and contingency plan in writing to give your security initiatives more gravitas. This serves as a roadmap of sorts if an attack happens, as well as solidifies the necessity of IT security and fosters accountability.

In conclusion, a good data security strategy is one thing you should have in your business arsenal. There are some things you should never leave up to chance, and this is one of them.

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