With Holiday shopping in full speed many small businesses have been preparing for a successful season. With a steady increase to internet banking and shopping there is an unfortunate rise of identity theft as well as fraudulent transactions. The unfortunate case of becoming a victim to online theft can leave many people or businesses facing financial as well as personal loss. Michelle Stone from AmOne, gives us some basic tips on how small businesses can keep themselves and others safe online.
More than ever small businesses are utilizing online shopping to engage a larger clientele. What would be the first move to help prevent online scams and fraud?
Simply put, online retailers, regardless of size, should have at least the basic security and encryption in place. There are a number of companies that provide authentication and security for ecommerce sites. In addition, many web host providers offer packages that include site security. The best, first move? Think like your customers. You’re a customer yourself. Use your experience in shopping online and think of how safe you feel your personal and financial information is. Which online stores have you used and how secure are they? Do they display things like HTTPS before their web address, is there a green padlock in the address bar of the browser, do they have some form of certification? Odds are they have all of this and more and you as a consumer felt confident that your payment information wasn’t going to be compromised. Take notes from these retailers and apply them to your own business.
Are there ways of safeguarding online customers from a cyber-attack?
Customers can be compromised from a number of areas. While you can work to make your website as secure as possible, it’s harder to make sure that your consumers haven’t been compromised in visiting another website or falling prey to a phishing scam. You can educate your customers on what to look for when it comes to spoofing, phishing, pharming, smishing, and even vishing. If you don’t know what those terms are, you should. Do you have frequently asked questions on your website? If so, talk about how you take their online security seriously and explain what they should be on the lookout for. Tell them that they should always go to your website directly and access their account from there. If you have a newsletter or other email marketing, add this information in as well on a regular basis. It can be a monthly security tip. Help your customers help you by informing them and keeping their computers safer. This in turn will help your system limit exposure to a possible attack.
Is there any benefit to educating employees to internet safety?
Your employees are as likely to fall prey to fraud or an online scam as your customers are. There are even more direct threats to your business, threats that use your employees as a way to access sensitive data. Your employees are your first line of defense. Making them aware of social engineering techniques such as someone calling the company and posing as a vendor (or even as a coworker) will help to protect your business from someone wanting to steal information.
What would you consider the best possible way to educate employees?
Keep your employees informed. Many of the exploits that can target your business also affects them as consumers. This will help make the training materials easier to relate. Just like with assessing your business and where you shop to get a sense of how you can prevent identity theft, put yourself and your employees in your consumer’s shoes. It’s easy to stay informed on the latest scams, fraud schemes, and vulnerabilities through government websites like USA.gov and BusinessUSA.gov.
Is there a particular role a business can play when engaging the online community from social media and client communications?
If nothing else, listen to what’s being talked about in social media and listen to your customers. What are the current security issues and concerns? Twitter is a fast way to find out the latest information, whether it’s breaking news or Twitter chats with non-profit organizations like the Identity Theft Resource Center to learn how you can learn about threats and how to counter them. You can also take part in these chats and share information via social networks and emails to your clients (like a monthly newsletter). You should also claim your name on the major social networking sites, especially those that relate to your business. It can be easy for a fraudster to sign up a social media account in your company’s name and use that to try to defraud your customers out of their personally identifiable information. Make sure your employees and customers know which social networks your company is on and monitor your name and activity for any sign of potential issues (including client reviews).
To sum up online safety for the small business; what would you say is the number one necessary piece of advice to maintain a healthy and safe experience on the internet?
Think of how you use the Internet and what you expect from retail, media, government, medical, even entertainment websites when it comes to the safety and security of your information. Would you trust your own website with your email address? What about your credit card information? If not, why not. Then follow up with, why should a customer trust your site? Keeping it to that simple question, do you trust your own company’s website? can help to guide you in safeguarding your customers’ sensitive data.