Cyber Hacking - It's Not Just a Problem for Big Business!

We've all heard the horror stories of large corporations being hacked and consumer information being stolen - Target, Bank of America, etc. For the small business owner who operates a retail site, this type of hacking seems far removed from his/her business. After all, the sophisticated cyber criminals prefer to pick on large businesses, right? Wrong! Cyber criminals actually find that hacking into smaller business Internet presence is infinitely easier, and that is why these smaller sites experience thousands of dollars in lost revenue and compromised customer information every year.

You owe it to bth yourself and to your customers to position yourself within a fully secure environment for transactions, and there are several things you can do to accomplish this. Do not become lazy about Internet security - it could cost you money but, even worse, customer loyalty!

There are certain things that you can do on a regular basis to keep your site secure, and you must accomplish this security by several important steps.

1. Keep your computers updated: Microsoft finds "holes" in its security and develops "fixes" on a regular basis. Be certain that you are installing the latest updates as they become available.

2. Keep current on breaches that are reported: Recently, there was a breach reported by Microsoft users who were accessing the Internet through Internet Explorer. Switching to another Internet server when these things are reported will be critical. And telling your customers about this breach, as well, demonstrates that you are a responsible retailer who is looking out for their security as well.

3. Employ the services of a network security professional: Chances are, you are not big enough to have network security personnel on a permanent basis. However, contracting with such a professional who can evaluate and improve your security is essential to your business operations. This activity should occur on a regular basis, because cyber criminals are always improving their methods of hacking!

4. Block access to social media and other websites on your systems, so that employees cannot use their "down time" to engage in personal web activity. If you have employees who are working remotely, they must have a separate computer that is used for your business activities. Failure to do this opens up a huge "hole" in your security.

5. Have the latest anti-virus software installed. This step is relatively cost-effective and pays big dividends in the long run.

6. Insist upon strong passwords for any access to your site. Combinations of letters (capital and lower case), numbers and other characters are far more secure, and you must insist upon this for employees and for customers who wish to set up accounts on your site. While some may find this a "pain," the stolen identities and credit card information are certainly far more painful.

You can fight cyber crime and keep your site secure. It takes basic action on your part, as well as regular monitoring of your security protocols and a continued awareness of the latest hacking methodologies used by criminals. When you commit to security, and implement all of the steps listed above, you ensure yourself and your customers of a safe experience.