Improving cybersecurity

Editorial Team

5 min read
Free wi-fi sign at cafe


Cybersecurity attacks against small businesses are on the rise. In the last year, hackers have breached half of all small businesses in the United States. Big companies like Target, Yahoo, and Anthem all have teams of lawyers, PR representatives and IT support to help them get back on track. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t have those kinds of resources. The average cost of a single fraud to a small business? A whopping $9,000: unfortunately, 60% of merchants go out of business within six months of a security attack.

Despite the enormous risks, many of America’s 28 million small businesses aren’t thinking about cybersecurity. If this sounds like you—you’re in good company. A survey published by Manta discovered that 1 in 3 small businesses don’t have the tools in place—firewalls, anti-virus software, spam filters or data-encryption tools, for example—to protect themselves.

Protecting your business doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t require you to shell out thousands of dollars. Here are some simple, smart steps you can take to keep your company secure.

1. Switch to EMV chip card payment processing.

It’s time to stop procrastinating on upgrading to Clover’s EMV reader. In October 2015, all businesses that accept electronic payments were required to have EMV-compliant point of sale systems. Why is EMV a better security solution? EMV chip cards come with extra security features. Namely, the account information stored on cards is encrypted uniquely each time it is accessed. This makes it more difficult for fraudsters to strip useful pieces of information. When a business doesn’t have an EMV-compliant POS, they are automatically liable for any fraudulent transactions if they accept payment from an EMV chip card. Make sure your hardware is equipped to take payment cards with the new security features and protect your customers.

2. Keep your software up to date.

Those annoying pop-ups asking you to update your software every time you log in actually do serve a purpose. They are help you keep your system secure. As the experts at Tom’s Guide note, “an outdated computer is more prone to crashes, security holes and cyberattacks than one that’s been fully patched.” Hackers are on the lookout for security vulnerabilities. Each time you update your software, it gets a security upgrade. Keep your defenses strong—and stop those pesky pop-ups from disrupting your morning routine.

3. Secure your wireless networks

We salute the coffee shops, salons, book stores, and other merchants who generously offer their customers free wifi. It’s a great way to give keep your customers coming back for more. However, unsecured wireless networks are like a beacon for hackers. A vulnerable wifi hot spot is equivalent to leaving your front door open: hackers can gain access to the machines on your network for passwords and financial data.

Luckily, you don’t have to shut down the internet to keep your business safe. Put a password on your network (and change it regularly!). Keep your wifi updated to the latest encryption standard. If your customers don’t need access to your wifi, consider cloaking your network by disabling the service set identifier (SSID) broadcasting function By hiding your network, only users with the exact network name will be able to login to your internet.

4. Backup and encrypt your data regularly

Keep your data in cloud storage with an encryption feature to prevent hackers from stealing your customers’ information. Cloud storage moves your sensitive information off site, so in the event of a disaster, everything is still safe. Many cloud storage features have a setting that will automatically update and encrypt your data on a set schedule. Encrypting your data with a password can add another layer of security to your customer’s sensitive information.

5. Create stronger passwords, and change them regularly

Depending on the size of your business, you may want to consider two-factor authentication (2FA). With 2FA, a user needs two pieces of personal information to access an account, rather than just a password. This is a great security solution for businesses with two or three employees. However, if you’re bigger or growing, 2FA can slow down your team’s productivity.

Rely on a strong password strategy to keep your data safe. Require your team to create passwords that include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Have a schedule in place for changing passwords regularly—at least once a month. Keep it unpredictable to discourage attackers from trying to penetrate your system.

6. Add antivirus software to your company computers

Antivirus software doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Usually, these programs are the last line of defense for your network. Antivirus and antimalware software gives you protection from targeted attacks—if your employee opens a spam email, for example. Business News Daily has a great rundown of the available security software on the market for smaller merchants.

7. Get Clover Security Plus

Clover Security Plus is a fast and affordable way to upgrade your business to world-class security status. This system is like having a Secret Service retinue backing up all your transactions, from swipe to finish. Clover Security Plus gives you end-to-end encryption and tokenization technology to protect your customer’s data. A built-in PCI compliance wizard helps you adhere to the latest security standards, along with a security score that helps you benchmark your data security and risk reduction. Reduce liability with extra coverage in the event of a data breach. The Clover team has your back: support experts will always be standing by to address any security questions or concerns you may have.

If you haven’t done so already, your first step should be to upgrade your POS to be EMV-ready. Keep your business secure, no matter what attacks come your way. Give yourself peace of mind with Clover Security Plus, and get back to doing what you do best: running your business.