As an entrepreneur, your company is much more than just your employer. In a very real way, it’s your life, and its success or failure is inseparable from yours. For this reason, it is vital that you do all you can to protect yourself and avoid breaches to your credit card security. The Ponemon Institute estimates that a business loses $202 for every record that is compromised. Multiply that by the number of records you have and you can see how this could be a very serious problem for you. The Federal Trade Commission has compiled a list of strategies that small business owners can employ to minimize the threat of security breaches. Incorporating them into your business practice can mean the difference between vulnerability and safety.
- Keep your records straight. A conscientious business owner maintains thorough track of the information that is on file. That means knowing what it is, how far back it goes, and what parts are sensitive. Messy and disorganized books can spell disaster, and taking just a few minutes every day to keep them up-to-date and clear might one day be a lifesaver.
- Minimize. In order to make yourself less vulnerable, only keep the information that is absolutely necessary. Don’t save credit card numbers you don’t need or ask customers for their Social Security numbers for identification purposes.
- Safeguard. That means securing hard copies and papers in locked boxes. Password protect all computers. Require that a password be re-entered after 20 minutes of inactivity. If you have a server, consider encrypting it.
- Invest in a shredder. Resist the temptation to hold onto superfluous records such as old pay stubs, bills and investment records for any more than one year. Keep tax records for seven years but don’t be afraid to use that shredder.
- Prepare for the worst. Hopefully, your security measures will be effective, but no solution is airtight. Make sure you have a plan in place in the event of a security breach. Determine how you will investigate what has happened, how you will notify your customers, and what steps you will take to correct the situation.
Hopefully, this worst case scenario will not happen. Putting data safeguards in place is your best strategy to avoid or minimize these dangerous security breaches. Protect your customers and the company that sustains you and your family by making these solutions a part of your daily business life.