By Alex Gladu, Writer, Independent We Stand
At the start of this month, small business owners faced an important deadline: either switch point-of-sale systems over to EMV chip card technology by October 1, or bear the burden of liability in fraud cases. In an increasingly digital world, staying up-to-date with the latest technology has never been more important for small businesses, whether it’s a legally required adjustment or not. Nowadays, falling behind could mean falling prey to technological glitches, identity theft or the next big cyber attack.
When it comes to fraud, in particular, small businesses are often the big losers. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, businesses with fewer than 100 employees suffer 28 percent higher median fraud losses than larger businesses. For small businesses hit by fraud, that means an average median loss of $154,000. What’s more, fraud is far from the only concern for businesses. Even a small data breach could shut your systems down and leak sensitive information, causing a slew of other problems like loss of customers’ trust and a temporary outage of critical systems.
Fortunately, good technology — and some good business sense — can protect against the bad technology. More importantly, you don’t necessarily have to be a computer whiz to make sense of it all.
Make the Most of EMV
If you haven’t transitioned to EMV-capable point-of-sale systems, now is definitely the time to do so. As of October 1, the liability in card-present fraud cases falls on the least EMV-compliant party involved. If your customers come in to use their chip cards, but your system isn’t EMV-capable, liability for fraud falls on your shoulders.
If you have transitioned to EMV-capable systems, now is the time to show them off. Consumers are still learning how to use the systems, so chances are they’ll have questions. Explain why EMV chip card systems are better for all parties involved: They store and transmit sensitive data in a unique way after every transaction. They’re also much harder to copy and counterfeit. The chip card technology isn’t just an improvement for you; it’s an important upgrade for your customers, too.
Use a Password Management System
Small business owner or not, most people use little in the way of a password management system other than a sticky note and their memory. To adequately protect your business, though, a password management system will add an additional layer of security between hackers and your data. For example, LastPass, one of the most popular password management systems, securely stores your passwords and ensures that you’re using strong passwords. It can also automatically change your password for you in the event that one of your accounts is compromised. Plus, if you’re not responsible for remembering all of your passwords, it doesn’t matter how many random numbers and special characters you add to bump up the security.
Educate Your Employees – and Stick to a Policy
Do you know what sites your employees visit on the office computer? Do you know what devices they have hooked up to your office Wi-Fi network? Each user of your business’s computer system should know what policies to follow when using the devices. Make sure they know what companies or vendors you do business with, so they can tell which emails and phone calls matter, and which might be scams.
Securing your business protects you and your consumers from unwanted breaches, penalties and headaches. With a few easy upgrades, you can get your business on board with the nationwide EMV transition and reduce the Web-wide risk of a data breach.
Independent We Stand is dedicated to helping independent businesses across the country engage their communities and encouraging customers to buy local. If you’re a business owner, get buy local resources, tips and news by registering for a business membership. Your business will also be included in our ‘locals only’ search engine and mobile app. If you’re a consumer, take the pledge to buy local to join the movement.
Alex recently graduated the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with B.A.s in Journalism and Spanish. Since becoming a writer for Independent We Stand, she has fully adopted the ‘buy local’ lifestyle. Her favorite indie business is Sugarland, a bakery in Chapel Hill, N.C, where she has been known to go a little cupcake crazy. She hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in nonprofit or political communication.