By Rieva Lesonsky
What security processes and checks do you have in place for your business when it comes to protecting customer information such as credit card numbers and other personal data? You can bet the bank that gave you a small business loan has major safeguards in place to keep your information confidential and yet, the news seems to constantly feature stories about companies being hacked for customer information. And as we approach the holiday season, where you’re planning to spend precious working capital to bring in more customers, you better be sure your internal compliance efforts are being followed to the letter.
According to tech research company Gartner two-thirds of all companies have discovered weaknesses in controls at their businesses. And fraud costs these companies about $15,000 for each occurrence. Despite this, only 35 percent of small businesses have an IT disaster recovery plan. That’s unacceptable. Small business owners need a solution that puts processes in place so their customer information is handled correctly every time. Also, make sure you have monitoring and analysis procedures, and have a plan for correction in case your information gets compromised or the system fails. You don’t want to be caught unprepared. It’s not about fixing a problem. It’s about fixing your system so it doesn’t get compromised, and if it does, it’s about making sure it doesn’t happen again.
Make sure all your archived data is stored and safe from prying “eyes” and hackers. All your employees should be trained to observe and adhere to security rules. When you’re just starting out, IT security and compliance might not seem to be a priority, but if you’ll be collecting customer information, you need a system in place from the start. Not only is this the smart thing to do, but it could save your business from failure later on. To be on the safe side, hire an expert to set up your system for you.
Most of IT theft occurrences are due to employee error or employee negligence and can be avoided. Discover where the weaknesses are in your IT procedures and initiate policies to strengthen your system immediately. Check with trade associations in your field. Some industries require specific security policies be implemented.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports