In today’s technologically advanced society, using online resources is not only important but unavoidable. Computers have made organization, financing, data storage, marketing and more all incredibly accessible. However, having all this material stored on the web carries the risk of hackers breaking through your barriers and accessing (or even stealing) data. For your own peace of mind and for the security of your customers who are entrusting you with their personal information, you need various forms of online security to protect that important content. From basic security measures at your frontlines to SSL certificates to antivirus ware and more, here are a few precautionary controls you can use to keep your business safe online.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates are a security measure used worldwide to provide a means of encryption in electronic communication. You are constantly using and exchanging private information—payment data, usernames and passwords, emails and addresses, and personal details. An SSL encrypts that data, encoding information until it is undecipherable without a key that only authorized persons have access to. It also authenticates your website so that users can feel confident that they have not been led to a fake site. The kind of SSL certificate you need will depend on the size and connections of your home site and can further vary by the amount of protection you actually need. Get an SSL certificate through an official Certificate Authority. These are entities who are solely meant to verify the legitimacy of online pages.
Many consumers are drawn to (and even seek out specifically) the ease of online transactions. If part of your business involves selling any product or service and allows those to be paid for on your website, you need to protect that data. Using the internet as your middle man instead of directly receiving payments “in-store” or wherever you work, comes with that risk of hackers accessing sensitive information like credit card numbers. You can get an SSL specifically tailored for online payment processing. Also, make sure that the form of your payment is safe! Direct deposit is the safest means of money-changing, but there are options like PayPal and Venmo that are just one step removed from that direct deposit and may be easier for you and your customers to work with. Or, you may just want to build your own payment receiver! Whatever you choose, make sure the process is transparent to you and the buyer, and no one else!
Customer Data Protection
Invest in a reputable, effective IT agency to handle much of the protection issues for you. Properly managed IT will reduce the risk of being hacked or having it deleted. There is a ton of data scattered over a number of elements of your website… let the IT take the stress of those elements off your hands. IT services are some of the most reliable ways to ensure your customer’s data is consistently protected. They provide solutions to bugs (that can develop into dangerous holes and vulnerabilities in your system,) updates to your system that will strengthen and improve it, and guidance or advice for maintaining this central part of your company. You may want to implement a secondary layer of authentication for your buyers; you are liable for the safety of their information, so providing this “gate” of affirmation increases both your confidence and theirs in your website’s walls.
Firewall Security Measures
Those website “walls” filter through the data constantly being sent in and out of your pages. Anything that is meant to be private is kept within these “firewalls”. They block any malware that may attempt to attack your site and steal its information. They are your frontlines of protection, and they have been developed into an impressive barrier that is trained (or rather “programmed”) to identify safe and unsafe traffic in and out of your page. There are a variety of firewall types to choose from, each providing a specialized service that may tailor best to your company’s needs, like next Generation Firewalls (NGFW), proxy service, or basic packet filtering. This is a definite requirement for any business who values their information’s safety—a primary wall with programmed gatekeepers taking the initial risk out of any and every visitor to your website.
Frequent Password Updates
Using the same password for lengthy periods of time increases the chances of hackers getting ahold of that key to a trove of valuable data. As basic as it sounds, creating a schedule of frequent changes to passwords can make sure that your login information— especially for managerial or host authority positions that controls the storage and flow of data—are difficult for hackers to grasp or hold onto. This should be a practice for you and all your employees! There are programs that will suggest strong passwords for you, or evaluate the strength of your current ones. Create an effective system of password altering, creation, and remembrance! And remember that everyone’s password should be significantly different; if one is discovered and the rest are closely related, it will be easy for malware to guess at the remaining passwords and gain access across all fields of your business.
Even with solid preventative measures, some things may slip through the cracks as small bits that develop into larger ones, or “trojan” viruses that are initially disguised as regular activity but prove to be dangerous. Antivirus Software is similar in purpose to firewalls, but with the added benefit of specific and detailed attacking capabilities. This programming detects issues within your code by analyzing each “entry” and comparing it to other healthy, successful ones. If it doesn’t match, your software will raise a red flag and remove the issue altogether. This can be done automatically or manually, if you want to be a part of the analyzing process.
Maintaining the safety of your company starts with ensuring the security of its data. Utilize these effective tools of protection to allow your business the confidence it needs to run smoothly, successfully, and without the stresses of electronic risk!
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