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6 Steps to Protect Your Business from Cyber Crime

Take a moment to think about how vital technology has become to running your business. New advancements in technology have streamlined the way you communicate, accept payments, pay bills, track inventory, manage payroll and much more. Whether you are a small business or large company, technology has certainly had an impact on the efficiency of your operations in one way or another.

While technology saves business owners a lot of hassle in the form of time and money, it also poses a unique set of risks. According to the Kroll Global Fraud Report*, nearly 75% of U.S. companies report that they have fallen victim to a fraud incident in the last year, with 69% of those businesses suffering a financial loss as a result.  Fortunately, we have six steps that you can take to better protect you and your business against cyber crime and fraud.

1. Evaluate Your Current Security Tools

With all the recent cyber attacks, business owners need to make an assessment of the tools in place that can limit exposure to cyber attacks. It may also be worth hiring an outside consultant to give you a detailed analysis of your business’ overall risk assessment. You may be surprised at the vulnerabilities you might find. Once you know and understand where you need to focus, you can begin to take necessary steps to improve.

2. Make sure Cyber Security is a Priority with Your Team

More than likely, your employees are the first line of defense in Cyber Security. You’ll want to give them tools and resources to protect your business from fraud. First and foremost, work with your IT staff to develop a policy that addresses all potential cyber risks. This should cover everything from employee program usage to vetting software, like firewall protection or data encryption. You will want to make sure that all of your employees read and can demonstrate effective compliance to this policy, such as through required quizzes or periodic training drills. You’ll also want to provide your staff with adequate training on the ever-changing landscape of cyber fraud and protection methods. Pay for them to attend training and continuing education from an accredited program at least annually. Any software your employees use should also be come from trusted companies and be up-to-date to ensure that it employs high standards of security. You don’t want to be the next business in the news for email spoofing or for having leaked out your customer’s sensitive information.

3. Encryption Is Your Friend

Think of leaving your business’ and clients’ data without some form of encryption like leaving your keys in your car while parked. All of that information is essentially left unprotected. When it comes to the web, any information that you store or share (such as storing information on cloud based technology or sent through email) should be encrypted, meaning with a code that requires a key to open. This can be achieved through encryption software, password protection or through some form of user authentication. Advancements in user authentication technology (such as tokens or biometrics) has made encryption more effective and easier to use than passwords, but passwords are still very widely used. This leads us to our next step: 

4. Create cOmplic@t3d Passwords

The idea here is simple; don’t be predictable with your passwords. Avoid birthdays, pet names and simple passwords like 12345. It is also important to change passwords at least three times a year. Because friendly theft – theft by someone the victim knows – is the most common type of identity theft or fraud, don’t share your passwords with family members and be mindful of who has access to your personal information.

5. Leverage your Bank’s Technology to Reduce Fraud Risks

Business bank accounts remain the least protected accounts by the law, and therefore are a popular target for hackers. For this reason, competitive banks will stay on the forefront of technology to offer their business account holders the products and services that best suits their security needs.

  • According to a 2016 AFP Fraud and Control survey**, one in four organizations were targets of ACH Debit Fraud, and only 56% of the companies surveyed use ACH Debit Block to reduce risk, which is a service that banks offer to assist you in monitoring ACH payments on your account.
  • In another 2016 survey by the AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey**, 71% of organizations affected by payments fraud report that checks were targeted, and 20% of companies that were exposed to at least one check fraud attempt incurred some form of financial loss as a result. This risk can be reduced with a service like C&N’s Positive Pay.

You can visit our Business Checking Fraud Prevention page to learn more about ACH Debit Block and Positive Pay offered by C&N. 

6. Make it a Habit to Monitor Your Accounts

You should have Internet Banking for your business accounts. The beauty of Internet Banking is that you can safely monitor your accounts any time you choose because it’s available for use 24/7. Detection of fraud shortly after it happens is the best way to guard against financial losses. If you wait for your monthly statement and find fraud in your account, there’s a good chance that it is too late to do anything about it, and you may end up paying for it. Most Internet Banking systems also offer some sort of alert or notification system, which will provide you peace of mind that your accounts are continually being watched by whatever parameters you choose. With several transaction and security alerts available, you can elect to get notifications via email, phone call or text message to let you know if suspicious activity has occurred. You can also set these alerts up for other things, such as notifying you if your account balance falls below a certain level, effectively helping you manage your money.

If you believe you or your business has been a victim of fraud, contact your financial institution as quickly as possible to help prevent any financial losses. Feel free to contact our business services team and we will be happy to help you make informed cyber security decisions.

As a business owner, how will you respond to the increasing threat of cyber attacks? Instead of telling yourself that it won’t happen to your company, it’s important to be proactive. What steps will you take?