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Scams: The Serious Job of Protecting Client Information

Protecting client information. Chances are that you think twice before entering your credit card information online to buy something, you watch out for malicious links in emails and you keep your computer updated against viruses, spyware and hackers.

However, how much thought do you put into your small business data security and protecting client information?

Hopefully a lot, because according to Microsoft:

  • An attacker resides within a network for an average of 146 days before detection
  • The average cost of a data breach to a business is $3.8 million
  • The total cost of cybercrime to the global community in 2016 was $500 billion
  • 63 percent of attacks are the result of compromised user passwords and usernames

As these threats continue to become more sophisticated, legislation must too.

In Canada, many government departments such as the Department of Justice, RCMP, Public Safety Canada and Global Affairs Canada work together with international, federal and provincial law enforcement agencies against cyber crime.

That’s great, but you want to stop any potential attacks before your clients’ data security is breached!

And, if you’re thinking that your site is too small to appeal to hackers, think again. Sometimes a cyber criminal’s intention isn’t to gather sensitive content, but to relay spam emails from your server.

Let’s use the example of a membership site for these small business cyber security tips.

A membership website has specific resources available for members who generally pay a one-time or recurring fee to get content such as videos, eBooks, articles, tutorials and so on.

Because people are entering sensitive information such as email addresses, passwords and payment information to access their content, we need to be vigilant about how we keep them safe from online threats. (A secure site is also more likely to earn trust, which in turn can increase revenue.)

Here are a few suggestions to help safeguard your clients’ data security on a WordPress website:

1.  Choose a reputable web host. Don’t just go for the cheapest!

2.  Install an SSL certificate on your site. This means having HTTPS vs. HTTP in the URL. This is the prefix to your web address, and the SSL provides additional security and makes it harder for hackers to access. You can often add this service to your web hosting package for free, or for a small cost. An added bonus: a secure site can actually rank higher in Google.

3.  As soon as you see a new software update, install it. Many membership sites are built in WordPress, which lets you simply click the ‘Update Now’ button. This helps keep cyber criminals from taking advantage of security flaws in older versions. Similarly, look for plugins to help manage online security.

4.  Enforce complex passwords. Request or even demand that users create passwords with a combo of upper and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. This will deter people from using ‘12345’ as a password. You can also install a plugin on your WordPress site that only gives someone a number of tries to log in to before they’re locked out.

5.  Approve comments manually. Spammers love unattended comments! They can post links there that a) may drive traffic back to their site and b) may trick Google (however briefly) into thinking that their site has valuable content.

6. Clean up information that’s no longer relevant. Previous members, people who have cancelled, those who have completed your course … get rid of user info and payment info as often as you can. By following these small business cyber security tips, you can minimize the risk that your website is going to be targeted by scammers or cyber criminals.

Don’t cut corners when it comes to protecting client information, and you can create a safe space for loyal fans who feel comfortable handing over their personal and payment info.

 

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