BUSINESS: How to Avoid Online Data Breaches

In order to keep your business—not to mention your customers’ passwords, credit card details and social security numbers—safe, be sure to follow these tips for avoiding online data breaches.
 

08/21/2017

BUSINESS: How to Avoid Online Data Breaches

The threat of online data breaches continues to put millions of Americans at risk for identity theft and the potential dangers posed to businesses are, in some ways, even greater. The hit to a business’s credibility after a breach can be severe and class action lawsuits from affected customers could exact an even larger financial consequence. Smaller businesses with fewer resources can fare even worse.

In order to keep your business—not to mention your customers’ passwords, credit card details and social security numbers—safe, be sure to follow these tips for avoiding online data breaches.


Pay for protection

Purchasing security-focused hardware and software is one of the best investments that a business can make. Hardware such as Cisco’s branch routers can detect network intrusions before hackers access your data, while anti-phishing software like Norton Security can detect and erase viruses. Paying a network consulting firm for a consulting session to discuss your company’s vulnerabilities is also a worthwhile investment your business can make.


Monitor employee computer usage

Many online data breaches can be traced back to employees unwittingly downloading viruses onto their work computers. Installing unauthorized software or transferring work files from their home computers are other common employee behaviors that can lead to breaches. Intuit.com recommends that businesses regulate their employees’ use of work computers with programs such as Windows Registry, which will automatically stop USB and optical drives to prevent file transfers, and Microsoft Outlook, which will block the download of file types that it recognizes as being potentially harmful. Also, make sure that your employees are using sufficiently strong passwords and changing them with some regularity.


Educate your workforce

In addition to monitoring their behavior, you should also educate your employees on fraud prevention. Virtual Strong Box recommends setting up automatic reminders to not open emails or download attachments that come from unknown senders or unfamiliar addresses. Also remind workers not to provide usernames, passwords or any other personal information in an email message or pop-up
message.


Encrypt everything

Data encryption is one of the most important things a company can do to prevent devastating online data breaches. Of the 707.5 million records that were hacked in 2015, the majority of the stolen data was useless because it had been secured by encryption technology. Encrypting your files will reduce the likelihood of a network security breach and reduce your own company’s liability in the event of such a breach.


Create a contract

In addition to security protections, you will want legal protections as well. Intuit.com advises businesses to work with a law firm that specializes in internet issues to write up a contract that will protect you from liability in the event of a security breach. Such a document should detail what, if anything, your company would be liable for in the event of various legal situations and will also put a cap on the amount that you can be forced to pay in remunerations.

Online data breaches pose a risk to you and your customers, but following these simple steps can largely protect both parties from internet hackers.  

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