By: Mia Huntington
Senior Vice President & General Manager, Elavon Canada

One of biggest security risks to a company can be it's employees, while other common causes of data breaches are malware, credit and debit card fraud, lost paper documents, hacking and lost mobile devices. Learn how to protect your small business from these dangers with some insightful tips for an effective cyber security strategy.  

1. Institute a mobile device policy. From yours or your employees’ smartphones, tablets and laptops, confidential information walks out the door of your business every day, where it can be lost, stolen or compromised on public wireless networks. Ensure all company-issued devices are password protected, use data encryption, and have appropriate security apps installed. You can also talk to your employees to encourage security measures on their personal devices that hold company data. Establish a reporting policy for lost or stolen devices where employees understand the priority is protecting information, not reprimanding them.   

2. Use common sense. Many of these may be able to go unsaid, but a basic security primer is always a good idea — use a secure wireless network, shred confidential documents, install a firewall and good antivirus system, and keep all software up-to-date. Beware of phishing scams and avoid clicking on questionable emails and websites. Back up all data on reliable cloud sharing services, which are often free up to a certain storage size and give you and your employees the ability to access information remotely. Stay informed of potential security risks by reading tech news or keeping an eye out social media.

3. Train your employees on security protocols. Bad employees are a significant security challenge for all businesses, but so are well-meaning ones who may not be up to speed on the latest security best practices. That’s why it’s so important to train your employees on how to protect your business and customers. It’s a good idea to teach new employees basic online security and offer a quick refresher course for everyone else once a year. While you’re at it, make sure everyone only has access to confidential information they need to perform their jobs — only trusted IT managers and essential staff should have administrative privileges.

4. Boost your password protection. Never save login credentials, banking and credit information in your browser, as this is a huge breach of security. Anyone who can find out your computer login info or logs in while you’re away from your desk can access and download a copy of all saved data in an easy-to-read spreadsheet in under five minutes — no typical hacker coding knowledge required. Use a reliable password manager app instead to help you securely keep track of your various credentials, and install it on all your devices for easy access. You can also go the extra mile to protect your business by considering multifactor authentication technologies for sensitive data. Many vendors like financial institutions offer this service for an inexpensive cost.  

5. Research your service providers. From your web browser to your cloud storage to your payment processor, it pays to take some time to explore whether your data is truly safe with the products and services you use every day. Always look for providers who use advanced encryption and offer continuous updates to your system that meet the latest in digital technology standards. Don’t forget to find providers that offer top-of-the-line security across all devices, including mobile and tablets.  

At Elavon, we are a leader in upgrading customers to the latest technology solutions standards, protecting your business with secure solutions and an exceptional uptime service rate of 99.99% and 24/7 support. We also offer secure mobile and wireless payment processing solutions that offer encryption and tokenization capabilities to protect data both in transit and at rest.