Steps Small Businesses Can Take To Protect Themselves and Customers
By Greg Smith, president and CEO of Accudata Technologies
Protecting data can be a tricky game. From storing data to validating it, the entire process can lead to headaches and uncertainty about how exactly to protect it. Especially when it comes to home-based entrepreneurs and business owners, having the resources available to properly protect data can be costly. Fortunately, there are steps small businesses can take to protect themselves and customers.
Encryption is Key
Whether storing phone numbers, email addresses, tax information, or invoices, encrypting data will help protect businesses and their customers. Even if the information is lost or stolen, it will be protected and inaccessible if there is an encryption system in place. To add another level of security, change passwords regularly and don’t use the same password for all accounts. This will help prevent a hacker from breaking a single password and having access to all account information. The combination of ever-changing passwords on all accounts and encrypted data will make it much more difficult for a hacker to access the data.
Store Information in Multiple Places
By storing data in multiple places, such as a cloud storage program and a back-up hard drive, the data is not located in a single place. Storing information on the cloud allows data to be accessible from any computer, which can be convenient if trying to work from multiple locations. However, it is important to use the additional security measures, such as user identity verification, that are built into the cloud storage programs to project data from hackers. Also, backing up data onto a hard drive can provide a level of comfort in case it is misplaced or erased from a computer or the cloud. Set up a calendar reminder so you remember to back it up on a regular basis. This will help ensure the information is always up to date and accurate.
Use a Third Party that Verifies Customers’ Identities
Identity verification is of the utmost importance to both business owners and their customers. One of the main ways online fraud can occur is through a cybercriminal using a stolen identity or credit card information. Therefore, having technology in place that verifies customers’ real identities at the point of sale is an added step to help avoid fraud. Verification services, such as Accudata Technologies’, can help with this by validating a customer’s identity through his phone number. Once a customer enters his phone number, it is run through a data base to access information about him, such as his name and residential address. In a matter of seconds, it checks to see if they match. This verification helps prevent unnecessary fees and fraud, not to mention the frustration of dealing with a stolen identity situation. It’s better to proactively have a verification service like this in place before fraud affects a small business.
Educate Customers about the Dangers of Fraud
In order to ensure all parties are protected, educate customers about the importance of safeguarding their information. Emphasize to customers that they should never give out their personal information that would help a hacker steal their identity. Companies don’t need to ask for social security numbers or PIN numbers — they can verify the identity with simple information, such as a telephone number. This method is better for both the business and its customers because the identities can be verified in real-time, or shortly after, as opposed to days. If data has been hacked or stolen, contact customers immediately, so they can be on the lookout for possible fraudulent charges and take any necessary actions with their bank.
Regardless of the industry, home-based business owners need peace of mind when it comes to protecting their data, both for the benefit of themselves and their customers. These simple steps provide a strong defense for their data that they can easily implement from the comfort of their own homes. HBM
Greg Smith is the president and CEO of Accudata Technologies. Multi-award winning Accudata Technologies provides flexible access to data validation through innovative approaches to data transmission. For more information, visit: www.accudatatech.com.