There is a common misconception that fraudulent activities hit large companies the hardest. In reality, scammers, defrauders, hackers, and other harmful individuals will prey on any vulnerable organization. While larger companies may have bigger targets on their backs, smaller businesses are actually more susceptible to fraud. With this in mind, it is important to understand that businesses of all sizes need to take security extremely seriously.
Today, we will review some of the biggest security concerns that impact small businesses including phishing schemes, payment processing, online payment risks, and much more.
Phishing Attacks Impact Small Businesses
Merriam-Webster defines phishing as “a scam by which an Internet user is duped (as by a deceptive e-mail message) into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly”. Most forms of phishing revolve around identity theft by either impersonating a reputable organization or by directing victims to fraudulent websites. Most of us have heard of phishing scams, but few small businesses take the threat seriously as part of their overall security protocols.
Most large organizations have formal anti-phishing protocols. Small businesses are vulnerable to phishing attacks in much the same way as any individual. There are many available software packages to fight phishing attacks, but there are also simple ways to lessen your risks, including:
Identifying potential phishing attacks, particularly through emails.
Never reveal personal information over the phone or online if there is even a hint of doubt.
Never click on links from unknown sources.
Practice good bookkeeping.
Use customized merchant account software to track business dealings in a central location.
Security Concerns with In-Store Payment Processing
If your business accepts credit card payments of any kind, you are susceptible to payment processing fraud. These transactions will generally be either in-person or online. When it comes to in-person, point of sale transactions, consider these three pillars of security:
PCI Compliance: The Payment Card Industry-Data Security Standard (PCI) governs the best practices of businesses that process digital payments and more. Remaining PCI compliant is a great way to show that your business takes security seriously in addition to the material benefits of added security.
Choose the right payment processor: Your merchant services agreement is more than just a way to get started. Your payment processor can be the difference between remaining secure and being exposed to various security threats including credit card fraud and more. Look for a provider who has built-in security software in their suite of products.
Keep clean records of everything: There is simply no way to get 100 percent protection from security threats. Should your business become the victim of a phishing attack, credit card fraud, or anything in between, having clean books show that your business made every effort to stay compliant and run your business properly.
E-Commerce Payment Processing Security Risks
Many of the same security concerns of in-person payment processing also apply to online transactions. The larger difference from a security standpoint comes by way of processing payments through a payment gateway in lieu of more secure options like an EMV chip processor.
Due to these concerns, the primary security concerns of accepting online payments revolve around data transfer. This includes data security, data privacy, payment authentication, data integrity, and more. Most small businesses do not have the bandwidth to tackle these problems independently. In fact, most large businesses outsource these security considerations as well. This is, again, where choosing the correct merchant account providers/payment processors is crucial to keeping your business safe.
Other Security Considerations for all Businesses
Dangerous activities by employees: While none of us would like to acknowledge it, even our most trusted friends, family, and employees are capable of terrible things from time to time. As a small business owner, making sure that your employees are on the straight and narrow should always be a top priority. Not all of these activities are malicious, and often include “small” things like your cashiers swiping chip cards.
Harmful software (malware): Being careful about software downloads, clicking links, and adhering to strict standards when online can lessen your risk of malware and/or ransomware. Yet these malicious software systems remain prevalent to this day.
Lack of security oversight: This goes back to our introduction and the regrettable attitude of many small business owners that security simply is not a priority. If there is no software or human checks on your business’ transactions, you may be missing the signs of security issues.
No disaster recovery plan: Every business should have a DRP for various scenarios. Small businesses can take advantage of government resources and a myriad of templates available online to get started.
True Merchant Offers Payment Processing Security for Small Businesses
At True Merchant, we understand that a few simple tips from a singular article aren’t enough to keep small business owners protected. That is why we offer a number of dedicated merchant services including CardSecure. Lean on our extensive experience to handle the payment processing security for your small business.
To speak with a payment processing security professional, please call or email us today. Your small business is worth protecting!