Keeping Your Data Secure When You’re Out and About

Everyone has free Wi-Fi now. When you travel or just go out to dinner, you can easily use the free Wi-Fi that is available so that you never miss out on any work, no matter where you may be. But, this access to the internet, while convenient, is also risky. Public networks have low security and you can open yourself up to someone stealing your information. Here's how to keep your data safe.

Update Your Antivirus/Spyware Software

internet-1593448_640You should make sure your protection software is always updated, but do this especially before you plan to go in public and use a public network. If you use a Windows-based PC, the native Windows Defender works just fine.

Turn Off File Sharing

This is in your PC settings; you’ll want to find any devices that can be shared and any files that can be shared, and turn that off. That way no one can break into your files and read them while the network is open.

Turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS

If you’re not using these, turn them off. Obviously it’ll be on while you’re using it, and it’s okay to use it, but don’t keep it on when you’re not using it. This will help offer an extra layer of protection when you’re in public.

enter-1643453_640Use 2FA

Two-factor authentication, two-step verification, or multi-factor authentication requires a password, username, and something else that the user has on them. This will be information that only they have, such as a special code sent via mobile text.

Don’t Share Sensitive Data

When you’re on a public network, don’t share sensitive information in chats, emails, or elsewhere if you can help it. It gives the criminals who are likely watching your chat too much of a chance to take that info and use it for criminal purposes.

Get a HTTPS Everywhere Plugin

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) offers free plugins for most browsers that you might use to help you offer a little extra layer of security when using these URLs on a public network.

switch-949109_640Log Off Sites You Visit

Rather than just x out or close out a window when you’re done, it’s better if you actually click “log off” instead. The reason is that if someone is trying to steal your info and they’re watching what you do, they can quickly use your information to get right back into that site. If you log off, they’d have to enter security info again.

Turn Devices Off

You can go a step further to protect yourself; if you’re not actually using the device, turn it off. That way someone can’t take over your device and use it for criminal purposes without your knowledge.

You don’t want strangers snooping around in your email, watching your social media conversations, or stealing your banking information while you’re shopping. If you follow these tips, you’ll stay a lot safer and keep your data more secure when you’re out and about.

How to Secure Electronic Payments

Ensuring that your customer electronic payments are secure is very important because if anything goes wrong, consumers will lose trust in your business. There could also be high financial costs now and in the future, due to the lack of trust consumers will have for your business if word gets out.

internet-1593378_640How Payments Work

Electronic payments all go through the same type of system. Whether it’s a card used in person at a business, or a card used online through a service like Amazon, the card holder gives the business access to their card and information which is encrypted by the credit card companies using a payment network.

Third Party Processors

Today, there are many third party processors that you can use that take some of the issues of security out of your hands. Processors like PayPal, Stripe.com and others take that worry from your hands and hopefully their security is good enough that you never run into problems.

Merchant Accounts

Another way to accept credit cards is to get a merchant account. Merchant accounts are set up separately from your bank account and only take credit card payments. They often come with the equipment you need to take cards, as well as information about how to set it up on your website. You’ll need to learn about PCI compliance.

Set Up a Process

If you’re going to take credit cards, especially if you’re using your own merchant account, you need to set up a process that you and everyone follow to ensure security. Never write down card numbers, always follow the rules that you’ve been given by the processor, and do it the same each time.

letter-1831918_640Get Signatures

When you have your own merchant account it’s important to ensure that you get your customer’s signature on the credit card receipt or invoice. You can send invoices electronically and ask them to sign them using a signing service like DocuSign.com.

You Are Libel

No matter what, if someone uses someone’s card fraudulently, you are libel. The business always pays for the fraud, not the consumer. Therefore, it is very important for you to verify that anyone buying anything from you with a card is using the card legally.

Know the Signs of Fraud

Watch out for these signs: buyer buys via email; says they’re hearing impaired; makes a really large order; uses international shipping; card may be initially declined, then order is split; offers special instructions involving third parties; items are easily resold. It’s best to not take the order than take the chance if too many red flags go off.

pexels-photo-4Get Written Permission for Recurring Charges

If you do want to have your clients pay you via recurring payments, it’s important to get permission for charging their card again each month. Having that written permission will go far if they ever dispute the charge.

Being secure with electronic payments is imperative, whether you’re making them or taking them. Don’t use questionable websites, and be careful about who you buy from because any business can potentially be set up as a scam. Plus, pay attention to any anomalies when someone is buying.

How Botnets Damage a Business

Let's start with defining what a botnet is, in case you've never heard of the term before. A botnet is a network of computers, sometimes called a “zombie army,” all infected with the same virus. The zombie army is controlled by criminals. What is done with the zombie army later is up to the criminals. You can get infected the same way you get any computer virus, via malware by accidentally downloading it. Unfortunately, botnets pose a serious threat to businesses today.

Lost Time and Money

When any type of virus attacks your network, it will be costly in terms of both time and money. You might lose a lot of data that is important, or it may be corrupt, and it will take time and money to fix and recreate what was lost.

Loss of Trust

Unfortunately, if your website, computer or email list is ever taken over by a botnet, you may unknowingly send spam to others on social media, via email, and even infect others via your website. This can result in a loss of trust by the public of your business. It can even destroy a business.

legal-1143114_640Legal Issues

One well-known example is the fact that a lot of illegal botnets are currently hosted on the Amazon cloud. They’re not purposefully hosting criminals, but due to their cheap hosting and the ease of signing up, some people believe Amazon and other hosts like them should be held more accountable for problems.

Manpower Issues

When you have to use your people to fix these types of problems, it takes them away from what they should be doing. It doesn’t even matter whether you have to hire someone specially to take care of it or you have to divert someone, the issue still causes problems with your contractors and employees and takes them away from what they should be doing.

Infects Your Cloud

More than likely if you do business online at all, you use the cloud. Almost everyone does today, even without a business. They use banks, online appointments at their doctor’s office, email, and so forth. As a business owner you likely use the cloud for much more, and if your cloud is infected it can cause your information to be banned.

no-spam-sign-on-laptop-screen_zk2rn4suSpam Problems

If you have an intranet that is being slammed by spam, it’s likely your business has been infected with a botnet. They’ve taken all the email addresses of your employees or members and use them as their own.

Click Fraud

If you run ads online, or have shares that you want engagement with on social media, it can be very disheartening to realize that a lot of your likes are fraudulent. This happens a lot on Facebook ads to get more likes for your page. This is costly, and messes up your conversion numbers.

More Expensive IT Costs

Having to worry about becoming part of a zombie army can be very expensive in terms of IT costs. Not only do cloud-based companies have to spend more on security, you as an individual also have to really double check everything and even hire more knowledgeable people to ensure you don’t get trapped.

To protect yourself from being part of a botnet “zombie army,” it’s imperative that you keep all your software updated, your computer updated, and use only reputable cloud companies that keep up to date on security.

The Importance of Backing Up Your Data

When you have any type of business data or even important personal data on your computer, it’s imperative that you back it up. Even if you have data online in the cloud in the form of WordPress websites or other types of websites, it’s imperative to back up that data often because things happen.

Data

You’re Not Infallible

Sometimes mistakes happen, and you or anyone else can make the mistakes. You might try to update your WordPress website and make a mistake somehow and lose everything. If you’ve backed up the data, then it will literally only take a few minutes to fix it.

You Are Required

In some instances, depending on the type of data you have, you may be required to keep it for a certain number of years, like taxes. If you deal with other types of private information, you may be required to save it in a certain way. The best way to ensure that you have the data you need is to back it up.

Disasters Happen

The fact of the matter is that disasters happen, both man made and nature made. Because of this, you can assume that you will lose your data due to some sort of disaster eventually. It could be something as simple as a power outage that knocks out your hard drive, or a massive tornado, flood, or worse.

neo-urban-1734494_640Downtime Can Kill Your Business

Statistics regarding lost data are astounding. More than 40 percent of businesses that suffer a huge data loss do not recover and end up going out of business. Why risk it when it’s so simple to back up and save your business.

Saves a Lot of Time

The fact is, even if you don’t suffer some sort of data loss, having backups can save a lot of time. In fact, backing up your data on a regular basis or any time you create anything new can save time, because you won’t have to struggle to recreate the data or do it over again if you lose it or mess it up in some way.

Crashes Happen

Sorry, but technology isn’t perfect. You can get a virus, the thing can overheat, it might just crash for no reason and you’ve lost it all. We’re so lucky today to have the option to back up in the cloud, because it virtually eliminates multiple system failures that can cause you to lose all your data.

Thieves Exist

A lot of people think their computer and their external drive or jump drives are safer than the cloud. But nothing could be further from the truth. People forget that thieves when they break into your business or your home will just take your stuff, hard drive, external drive and all.

It’s Inexpensive Today

Having a fancy backup system used to be expensive, but today it’s not. You can literally save all your data in the cloud for less than 20 dollars a month and never run out of space. Look at Dropbox.com, Carbonite.com, Mozy.com and others. The one you choose depends on your needs.

The importance of backing up your data can’t be overstated. You’ll save time, money, stress and your business if you start backing up all your data as often as possible.

Types of Fraud That Target Businesses

Phishing is at an all-time high. This is where scammers try to get any type of sensitive information in many different ways to use to steal from a business or a person. They will use means such as breaking into email by stealing passwords in hopes to find information in the email, or to use the email for more phishing scams by pretending to be you when they’re not. You can protect yourself if you understand the various types of fraud that is targeting your business.

Overpayment Trick

This scam requires that the scammer buy expensive items and overpay by check. When the business gets the overpayment, they are then asked to just send the overpayment back to them via wire transfer. Of course, the first check is cancelled, no order is made and now the business is out the money they transferred to the thief.

scamPhishing Scams

Usually these are messages that look to be sent by a real company but aren’t. They will download a virus onto your computer that will get the details of your bank and other private information that you don’t want them to have.

Award Scams

Someone informs you that your business has won an award. But of course you have to pay a membership fee to get the award and you’ll be charged this membership fee, usually every single year. There is no real organization and it’s just a way to get your money.

internet-1593358_640False Orders

This happens to a lot of online businesses, whether they sell information products or physical products. Someone uses someone else’s credit card to buy a lot of merchandise which they then either return or sell to someone else.

False Bills

Often scammers send business owners fake bills to trick them into thinking they owe the money. This happens with domain renewals and other issues that look real when you get them but aren’t real.

IRS Scams

If you get a phone call from the “IRS” telling you that you owe back taxes and you know that you don’t (and even if you do), this is not how they’ll contact you. The IRS sends letters, and you call them. Not the other way around.

Fake Loan Scam

You’ll get a phone call that you’ve been awarded the opportunity due to the government or the president or some other nonsense to get a special loan for your business at a very low interest rate. These people really only want your personal information; you’ll never get the loan.

These scams and more are quite common, but unfortunately many people fall for them every single day. This is why they are common – they work. If you don’t want to be a victim of a scam, be sure to stay educated on the current scams, research anything that seems too good to be true, and do your due diligence to ensure that information is correct.

How to Secure Electronic Payments

Ensuring that your customer electronic payments are secure is very important because if anything goes wrong, consumers will lose trust in your business. There could also be high financial costs now and in the future, due to the lack of trust consumers will have for your business if word gets out.

How Payments Work

Electronic payments all go through the same type of system. Whether it’s a card used in person at a business, or a card used online through a service like Amazon, the card holder gives the business access to their card and information which is encrypted by the credit card companies using a payment network.

Third Party Processors

Today, there are many third party processors that you can use that take some of the issues of security out of your hands. Processors like PayPal, Stripe.com and others take that worry from your hands and hopefully their security is good enough that you never run into problems.

internet-1593256_640* Merchant Accounts – Another way to accept credit cards is to get a merchant account. Merchant accounts are set up separately from your bank account and only take credit card payments. They often come with the equipment you need to take cards, as well as information about how to set it up on your website. You’ll need to learn about PCI compliance.

Set Up a Process

If you’re going to take credit cards, especially if you’re using your own merchant account, you need to set up a process that you and everyone follow to ensure security. Never write down card numbers, always follow the rules that you’ve been given by the processor, and do it the same each time.

Get Signatures

When you have your own merchant account it’s important to ensure that you get your customer’s signature on the credit card receipt or invoice. You can send invoices electronically and ask them to sign them using a signing service like DocuSign.com.

You Are Libel

No matter what, if someone uses someone’s card fraudulently, you are libel. The business always pays for the fraud, not the consumer. Therefore, it is very important for you to verify that anyone buying anything from you with a card is using the card legally.

iphone-624709_640Know the Signs of Fraud

Watch out for these signs: buyer buys via email; says they’re hearing impaired; makes a really large order; uses international shipping; card may be initially declined, then order is split; offers special instructions involving third parties; items are easily resold. It’s best to not take the order than take the chance if too many red flags go off.

Get Written Permission for Recurring Charges

If you do want to have your clients pay you via recurring payments, it’s important to get permission for charging their card again each month. Having that written permission will go far if they ever dispute the charge.

Being secure with electronic payments is imperative, whether you’re making them or taking them. Don’t use questionable websites, and be careful about who you buy from because any business can potentially be set up as a scam. Plus, pay attention to any anomalies when someone is buying.