Cybercrime has skyrocketed and is projected to get much worse.

Whether it’s ransomware, data from stolen laptops, server breaches or improper paper document disposal, cybercrime is costing several trillion dollars in the aggregate.

At risk is the health of your company as well as the welfare of anyone with whom you do business. Even if you’ve thought you’ve financially survived a cyber attack, you risk a tarnished reputation.

So for solutions, it’s worth the financial investment in your technology and systems.

To protect your customers’ data, here are 15 strategies:

1. Own your own dedicated server

True, cash is king but using a shared server to save money isn’t worth the risk. A shared server means a higher exposure to cyber risk.

Other sites on your server might have weak security. Employees, customers and vendors of other companies pose with access to your server pose too big a risk from cyber criminals.

2. Implement a policy to limit access to personal information

Limit all access to sensitive customer information to only key employees.

If you or any key employees travel or telecommute, make certain the computers have virtual private network or secure VPN access.

When such employees leave your company, revoke their access to all accounts.

3. Encrypt your data

If you store or send data via an unencrypted channel you’re practically asking for trouble.

4. Use a sophisticated malware protection service

You need to have a service that will monitor and protect your site and visitors from compromise or malicious-code infections.

Consider cloud-based service, HackAlert. Bigger companies might consider Semantic Endpoint Protection.

5. Shred sensitive documents

Companies that have consumer and employee data are required to dispose of it according to the Federal Trade Commission’s FACTA Disposal Rule.

6. Get wiping software

The same disposal rule for paper documents is applicable to digital data – CDs, DVDs, floppy disks and hard drives.

Some businesses use free software: Eraser, File Shedder, Freeraser or Summit Hard Disk Scrubber. But I’d have more faith in Active KillDisk, Blancco.

7. Get computer-screen facial-recognition software

The main feature of facial-recognition software is that it provides display protection. So it’s another layer of protection from nosy people.

The computer screen blurs when the computer user looks away. Onlookers can’t see what’s on the screen.

Oculis Labs innovated with this software, PrivateEye.

8. Have a breach-disaster plan

In the event of a breach, you’ll want to have a disaster plan in place. This, of course, includes identifying and isolating the issue, notifying your customers and other stakeholders, and having your IT person solve the problem.

At risk is the health of your company as well as the welfare of anyone with whom you do business. Even if you’ve thought you’ve financially survived a cyber attack, you risk a tarnished reputation.

You need to minimize customer apprehensions, and mitigate potential damage to your finances and reputation.

9. Keep software updated

Viruses and hackers look for vulnerabilities in your software. So don’t ignore the messages letting you know it’s time to update your software.

10. Use software to manage your customer relationships

Customer relationship management (CRM) tools enable you to keep all your customer information in one location. That makes for better control and security.

While you’re at it, determine which employees can get certain types of information and which persons can make changes.

11. Don’t use the same password over and over

Passwords are regularly hacked. They need to be sufficiently strong to avoid danger. Some password tools will create strong passwords for you.

For convenience, there are tools that house your passwords such as LastPass.

12.Stop doing-it-yourself accounting

If you’re not using affordable accounting software, you’re not managing your time well and you’re risking data breaches. That’s especially true if multiple employees on different computers are using Excel spreadsheets.

13. Have an IT expert on your team or on call

You should have someone responsible to guarantee your computers and software are updated.

Scroll down to the Coach’s Corner for links to articles to either hire the right tech professional or the best tech consultant.

14. Train your employees on digital security

Never assume your employees are up-to-date on computer use and security. Periodically train them in best practices – from password usage – to not downloading unapproved files that might threaten your customers’ data.

That includes social media.

Yes, an epidemic of social-networking attacks represents unprecedented dangers to companies. After a Facebook user cost her company a $1 million loss, I wrote the article, 5 Safety Measures to Thwart Mounting Social-Network Attacks.

15. Stay current in your reading

Perhaps the most-trusted security firm is Citadel Information Group, Inc. You can sign up for the firm’s weekly newsletter here.

From the Coach’s Corner, related strategies:

9 Tips to Train Employees to Protect You from Cyber Crime — It takes a team approach to protect your organization against the skyrocketing rate of cyber crime. Here are nine training precautions necessary to make sure your employees help you guard against security threats.

Key Measures to Prevent, Recover from Ransomware — Published reports indicate ransomware cost businesses $350 million in 2015. The FBI considers ransomware attacks one of the three worst cyber threats.

How to Enhance Security in Your Company’s Wireless Network – Do you take it for granted that your wireless network is secure? Don’t make that assumption. Wireless routers present dangers. Your router is vulnerable to hackers and, hence, security issues. If you’re really serious about security, WIFI might not be for you.

Recruiting an IT Professional for Your Small Firm? 6 Tips for the Right Skills – Are you looking to add information technology personnel? You want to hire for a competitive edge, right? IT is a crucial position for you. The difference between failure and success requires reflection to hire for the right competencies.

6 Tips to Save Time and Money by Hiring the Right Tech Consultant — If you need to hire an information technology consultant, it can be costly in time and money, if you choose the wrong person. Use due diligence. Sophisticated tech vendors and consultants of all sizes have been known for cost over-runs.

Tips to Avoid Advertising Scams Tricking You to Ask for Tech Support — Advertising scams that prey on Internet consumers have prompted four Internet companies to band together to fight the abuse. The scams use harmless-looking ads to trick consumers into using phony tech support that actually enable cybercriminals to invade the unsuspecting owners’ devices.

“The balance between freedom and security is a delicate one.”

-Mark Udall


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.