Tis the Season: 4 Ways to Avoid Data Breach During the Holidays

The holidays are an exciting time of year as the weather turns cold, families decorate their homes with festive lights and stores are flooded with eager shoppers. Sadly, it's also a time of year primed for cyber theft. Thankfully, data breach coverage can protect your company's most valuable assets.

Season's Thievings

Each year around this time consumers are warned about leaving valuables in vulnerable places, as thieves regularly break windows to steal the gifts inside cars or swipe packages sitting outside the front door of homes. Yet, not enough is being done to educate shoppers about the dangers of shopping online.

According to a recent identity fraud study, fraudsters stole the identities of more than 13 million shoppers in 2015 and used their information to make $15 billion in phony purchases.

While credit card companies have greatly improved their security features in recent years (the forced adoption of the EMV chip being a prime example), hackers have also updated their techniques. Cybercriminals lift personal and financial information such as names, email address, social security numbers, birthdates, credit cards numbers and more to sell on the digital black market, also known as the dark web.

Savvy fraudsters repurpose this stolen information to create new shopper profiles that are hard to track and arguably more harmful to consumers and businesses alike.

Bah Humbug!

While identity theft is a big problem for consumers, data breach is an even bigger problem for SMBs. Imagine that your personal and financial information was stolen, not through any fault of your own, but through the negligence and mismanagement of a business you entrusted with your most valuable data! You would never trust that company again.

Follow these tips if you want to avoid leaking customer information during the holiday season.

Don't Get Hooked: Phishing scams are some of the oldest tricks in the book, yet they have an astonishing success rate. Educate your employees about the dangers of opening spam emails, unofficial software downloads or sharing their personal sign-in information with fraudulent websites. Hackers use these techniques to pilfer login credentials or install harmful malware to infiltrate your network and steal your data.

Stay Alert, Stay Safe: Santa Claus always checks his list twice. Similarly, you should keep a close eye on your online sales. Regularly inspect your customer requests for anything unusual. Are loyal customers sending high-priced items to unfamiliar P.O. boxes? Are you seeing dozens of login failures from a single account? While incidents like these might be innocent enough (shipping gifts directly to family members or customers honestly forgetting their password), they could indicate criminal behavior. Alert your customer to be sure. They will appreciate the warning.

Avoid Vulnerable Wi-Fi Connections: Many companies encourage their employees to take advantage of 'work from anywhere' policies without advising them about best practices. Caution your employees against joining vulnerable public Wi-Fi connections. Digital eavesdroppers will also often set up bogus Wi-Fi hot spots or steal data in transit.

Invest in Data Breach Coverage: Lastly, remember that no cybersecurity policy is perfect, and while you may have the best intentions, crafty hackers can sometimes get through. Protect your business and your customers with data breach coverage insurance from CyberPolicy. Nearly 60 percent of small businesses closed within six months of a breach; whether from loss of business, reputational damage, the cost of recovering stolen records or class action lawsuits from disgruntled customers.

Don't get caught off guard. Follow the tips above to safeguard your most valuable assets and keep your customers confident and coming back for more. Visit CyberPolicy today to secure your business.

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