Protect your Business from Cybercrime this Holiday Season

You are a small business owner and the holidays are usually your “make it or break it” time of year. Everything rides on your ability to get as much revenue as you can over the season to float through the cashless fog of January and February. You know cybersecurity is important and can wreck your company, but you are not an IT expert, and Christmas is 35 days away, what can you do?

Fortunately, there are several inexpensive steps you can take that to secure your business this holiday season. So let’s take a look at…

9 Steps to Better Sleep this Holiday Season for Business Owners.

#1 No New Technology: the holiday season is no time for you to try out new technology in your company. Yep, your IT shop says it will make you millions, save you money and do everything but cook dinner. Still, wait till next year to try it out. The reason? New technology may impact your IT architecture in ways you cannot know, and the holiday season is no time to be learning that lesson.

#2 Be PCI Compliant: the new requirement behind PCI DSS 3.1 require you to scan quarterly and pentest annually. These simple actions and compliance with PCI requirements such as firewall management, Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam solutions and end point management will greatly reduce your vulnerability to hackers during the busy season.

#3 Protect your mobile data platforms: A lot of retailers are using IPads and tablets to conduct store transactions, order food and to get customer feedback. Ensure that these devices are encrypted both internally and on the network being used (cellular, wireless, Bluetooth) to communicate.

#4 Encryption of Data. This is one of the best security measures a retailer can take to protect data that is on site or that could be stolen. It’s easy to sleep at night knowing that if someone makes off with your data, it is unreadable. Another cool point, depending on the data stolen, is that if it was encrypted, you may not have to report it.

#5 Ensure you can recover your data (back up). Once data is hacked, encrypted through ransomware or stolen on devices it is gone, but it’s not gone forever. Ensure that your or your data hosting facility provides regular backup of your data. Occasionally, test the system, but not by losing your data.

#6 Lock down your hardware. Most companies are challenged to identify all the hardware that they have. Ensure that you enumerate all the hardware you have, identify whom it is assigned to and where it is and be able to track it. A lot of data that is lost is obtained through stolen hardware from a company.

#7 Secure your Network. Yep, having Wi-Fi is cool and offering it to your customers is even cooler, but not if the network is unsecure and is attached directly to your IT infrastructure. Ensure your networks is secured using WPA2 encryption and have a hard to find password. Better yet, ensure you have a “guest” network that operates in parallel to your retailer network but is not connected to it at all.

#8 Have good customer service: Consumers that buy retailer goods and then call the credit card companies to challenge the purchase or quality force the retailer to incur steep charges. Called “chargebacks” or “friendly fraud,” retailers are forced to refund the cost of the purchase through credit card companies, and then do not recover the goods due to the cost of investigating the complaint. Ensure you have good customer service to ensure that consumers have a friendly voice to voice dissatisfaction.

#9 Hire security. Even the smallest company can defer fraud by bringing on affordable expertise to assist them with security. Hiring a third party managed service provider, or cloud based security alerting service can provide businesses with another level of security making them harder to hack and forcing criminals to turn to other companies.

It is critical that retailers focus on their business and accruing critical revenue during this holiday season. By following at least a few of these steps, business owners can harden their companies against hackers, drive revenue into their companies and maybe, just maybe, be able to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.


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