Do you Really Need Cybersecurity?

As a business owner, you likely already know how credit cards and ACH payments increase the chance of a sale while increasing the number and size of transactions. But, accepting payments through POS hardware and software brings questions about data security and risks. Just how important is it to protect yourself and your customers from cybercriminals? 

It’s crucially important. Strong security is not just nice to have; it’s required to abide by local laws and processing rules and contribute to continued customer growth. 

In this article, we examine why cybersecurity measures are vital to your business. We also provide ways to get started. 

What is Customer Data Protection?

Data comes in many forms, such as customer contact information, employee records, customer transaction records, and payment information—and all of this information is valuable to hackers. The data needs to be protected to prevent the theft of sensitive customers information. If your system is breached or data is stolen, hackers may resell the data to other hackers, create false identities to access banks or credit cards, and even hold account owners for ransom.   

Data protections are any measures you take to protect that data. Protections may include restricted access to information on computers and electronic devices and blocking access to hard copies. 

Why is Customer Data Protection Important?

The Threat is Real

Without protections in place, you are now more vulnerable to phishing and identity theft than ever before. According to Cybercrime Magazine, cybercrime is estimated to cost companies around the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Cybercrime doesn’t only affect large businesses; small businesses are increasingly targeted, and 60% of small businesses go out of business after a cyberattack or data breach.  

Data Protection is Required by Law

Data breaches have led to increased concerns from customers and governments to set data protection rulesThe General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for European businesses and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are examples of such regulations. Additionally, half of all U.S. states have their own rules about data protection.  

PCI Compliance is Expected 

Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is a set list of standards set by electronic payment networks. These guidelines aren’t federally mandated but may better protect you from liability if a data breach occurs. If a breach occurs at your business, you’ll face higher rates from your payment networks, processor, and merchant account due to being deemed a higher risk.  

The good news is, PCI compliance is made simpler with a payment processor that prioritizes security.  

You Need That Data

Customer data is becoming essential for improved business performance and staying ahead of the competition. You can use it to improve your products and services to fit client needs better. You can also generate more sales with less effort through more intelligent and effective marketing efforts. 

You can even serve individual customers better, which is especially advantageous when you consider that repeat customers make up 25% of an average business.   

Maintaining Customer Trust is Vital 

Due to high-profile data breaches worldwide, businesses are increasing their protections. And, customers are warier of providing sensitive data. McKinsey and Company surveyed 1,000 North American customers and found that customers are becoming more cautious about providing information due to large-scale data breaches. They are also more prone to limit sharing their data to only what’s relevant to each business.  

It bears repeating, return customers make up 25% of a business’ average customer base, so providing security measures to alleviate their concerns is crucial. You want your customers on your side—not just to help you maintain your business but also to grow it by recommending you to their family and friends. If you don’t have security protocols in place, you could lose your customer base and severely damage your reputation. 

Customers often willingly provide their data with the understanding that it will be protected and not shared or abused. If customers have a poor experience with your business, they’re more likely not to return and spread the word, which could be detrimental to your business 

Maintain customer trust, and possibly even grow, by committing to better securing your customers’ information and having protections in place. Be more selective in the data you collect, and be transparent and honest about your data usage.  

How to Maintain Strong Cybersecurity

The following are ways to improve your cybersecurity. 

Maintain Current Security Software

Ensure your anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware software are up to date. Regular updates provide greater security. A managed service provider (MSP) can assist, but you may also set the software to update automatically. 

Encryption

Encryption disguises data, such as credit card numbers, birthdays, and addresses, by converting it into unreadable code that can only be translated with a key. Your payment processor can provide encryption for credit card data, and you can also use encryption to hide any dataeven in emails. 

Block Access to Hardware 

Use secure passwords with more than eight characters and symbols and numbers. If you have a shared password, limit who has access and require encryption. 

For hardware, such as laptops, smartphones, and flashcards or USB sticks, have a dedicated location where these items are returned and locked. Any paper copies that have financial information should also be stored under lock and key. 

Boost Network Protection

If you have remote access to your internal server, invest in VPN technology. For even more flexibility, move your system to a cloud network with advanced protections and access restrictions. A trusted managed service provider (MSP) can help with this. 

Regularly Monitor Data

Know where all data is stored and regularly monitor to ensure there are no surprises or weaknesses to access data. 

Vary Security Levels for Data Access

Control access to data by allowing only certain employees to access specific data types for particular purposes. These safeguards limit paths for hackers. Employees are a chief source of data breaches, whether intentional or not. 

Limit Data

Gain customer trust while still fulfilling your marketing and advertising needs by limiting the data you collect. Less data means less value for a hacker. 

Formal Procedures and Training 

Train your employees to follow a list of cybersecurity guidelines, including opening, closing, and in-office procedures, as well as learn how to spot phishing and ransomware emails.

BNG Payments Can Help

BNG Payments helps businesses of all sizes. We assist customers with PCI compliance, payment data security, encryption, and other services.  

BNG Payments prioritizes payment security. Connect with us to learn more.