Holiday cybersecure

Retailers around the world are anticipating less foot traffic in their shops this holiday season, with more than 75% of consumers expected to do most of their shopping online due to the pandemic. And if there was any doubt as to this proposition, Black Friday certainly proved the point.

While that will certainly keep consumers safer when it comes to Covid-19 infections, it could make them more vulnerable to other ills like cybercrime. If you’re not quite prepared for the digital onslaught, there’s still time to shore up your business, including your website or shopping portal, to help safeguard your customers and your company from hackers and other criminals.

The following are seven recommendations from the Federal Communications Commission that can help you prepare your business operations for increased digital traffic.

  1. Have standard security principles & ensure your employees understand them

The first step in keeping your customers safe from hackers and other cyber criminals is to make your business as cyber secure as possible. This means establishing basic security practices and policies for employees. A good place to start is requiring employees to use strong passwords, setting appropriate Internet use guidelines and implementing strict rules around how customer information and data are handled.

  1. Make sure your Wi-Fi networks are secure

If you have a Wi-Fi network for employees, it’s important to keep it separate from any public Wi-Fi network you may offer to customers. Make certain it is secure, encrypted and possibly even hidden. You can hide your Wi-Fi network by setting up a wireless access point or router so that it does not broadcast the network name.

  1. Have strict payment card protocols in place

It’s smart to keep your payment systems separate from other, less secure programs. For example, it’s best not to surf the Internet with the same computer that you use to process payments. Work closely with your bank or other processors to ensure you have the best tools and anti-fraud services to avoid e-skimming attacks and other crimes. 

  1. Secure your business information, computers & networks

Having the latest security software and up-to-date operating systems are the best first lines of defense you can implement against viruses, malware and other online threats.  

  1. Make sure you have firewall security for your Internet connection

A firewall is different from security software, adding another layer of security that can prevent outside access to the data on your private network. There are plenty of good, free firewall software options available online. And if your employees work from home, it’s wise to ensure their home systems also are protected by a firewall.

  1. Back up your business information

To ensure continuity of operations should hackers get through your digital defenses, it is imperative that you routinely back up critical data like financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files.

  1. Limit access to business computers

It’s smart to limit access to your business computers to authorized users only and to ensure each user has his or her own separate account with strong passwords. Administrative privileges should be limited to only a few highly trusted staff members.

Bottom line

Keeping your business, employees and customers safe from cyber criminals should be an ongoing and evolving part of your business operations. If you feel you need help setting up or updating the above or other security protocols, the FCC offers an online tool to help you create a custom cyber security plan along with expert advice for your specific needs.