Cybersecurity is one of the biggest concerns for any modern business no matter how big or small. Hackers have always been a menace to the working internet-connected world but in the past few years they've gotten bolder, meaner, and they don't care about hurting your business in order to wreak a little havoc or steal a few credit card numbers. While your firewalls, virus scanning programs, network monitoring and managed IT teams will all help you resist invasion, there are things a hacker can find out simply by watching your internet traffic and, sometimes, malware manages to sneak in despite your best efforts. When this happens, your best defense is a clever combination of backups, detection triggers and, of course, encryption.
Encryption is the art of encoding your data in a way that strangers couldn't possibly read. The way it works is that every encryption has a key like 1=A, 2=B and so on, only the key is usually unique so that no one who doesn't have access can un-encrypt your files and see the contents. For this reason, encryption is the perfect defense against hackers who manage to get a look into your business network. Here are five of the most important times to use encryption when securing your business IT infrastructure.
1) Transmitting Login Information
Login information is one thing that almost every single online platform has to deal with. From websites and online services to mobile apps and IoT devices, hackers have been gaining access to business networks and customer accounts through spoofed, guessed, or stolen login information for decades. Logins should always be encrypted from the moment it's created and stored in your database to transmitting submitted credentials as a user logs in on their personal computer or device.
2) Processing Digital Payments
The hacker's new favorite game, one that's been used to victimize multiple hotel chains since 2016, is collecting credit card numbers from digital payment processing. While hotels are currently the primary targets, anyone who handles credit cards is at risk including eCommerce, brick-and-mortar retail, and even street vendors with portable card readers. Your customers trust you to use their credit card information once and then store it safely or immediately wipe the information. Immediate encryption s the best way to ensure that hackers can neither 'skim' the data from your card reader or steal it from your business databases. All they'll get is gibberish.
3) Storing Client Personal Data
Along with credit card information, hackers have also managed to steal a dangerous amount of personal data from businesses with unsecured and unencrypted information. Names, addresses, phone numbers, and other identifying information was stolen in reams, meaning that thousands of people are now at risk for identity theft. Once again, a little encryption is the obvious answer. Any time you store anyone's personal information, whether it's a client, employee, lead, or business partner, make sure that data is encrypted so it can't be stolen in a security breach.
4) Protecting Sensitive Company Data
Of course, personal data isn't the only information you don't want hackers to get their hands on. While your business can't be personally attacked through identify fraud, you can be targeted with clever use of sensitive company data. Financial statement, internal procedure documentation, and trade secrets all fall into the category of sensitive company information you probably want to keep encrypted.
5) Transmitting Personal or Sensitive Information
Finally, it should be noted that even if you effectively keep hackers out of your business network with solid cybersecurity measures, they might still be able to steal your data while it's transiting over the web, especially if they find a way to bug a client or employee's personal device or home network. This means that any sensitive data you transmit from the app or platform to the central network or vice versa should be encrypted for the journey.
For more helpful cybersecurity tips for your small business, contact us today!