The internet has done amazing things as far as helping entrepreneurs create work-life balance. But it’s also made it easier for scammers and other unscrupulous types to collect your information, both personal and professional. If 2018 taught us anything, it’s that no business, no matter how large or small, is immune from data breaches or even complete system takeovers.

How to protect yourself

One of your first lines of defense is to simply change your passwords regularly, and to require employees do the same. Inc recommends using a combination of letters and special characters, and making sure passwords are at least 20 characters long. Keep in mind that even the most diligently password-protected accounts are not without vulnerabilities. If a data breach occurs, you’ll have to act quickly. A digital forensics team like Secure Forensics can jump in with the latest technology to investigate the breach and put it to a halt. These types of firms also offer breach prevention education and analysis to keep your customers’ valuable information – or your sensitive data – from being accessed in the future.

Scams that target business owners

Criminals have hundreds of ways to access your cash or your information, the latter of which may be even more valuable.

The FBI notes that one common high-profile method of fraud is a business email compromise. This happens when a scammer identifies a business that works with out-of-country vendors or customers. Since wire transfers are involved, these criminals engineer ways to conduct or redirect unauthorized funds transfers. Although these scams may be difficult to detect if you have many transactions that occur each day, it pays to be conscientious and keep an eye not only on ingoing and outgoing payment notices, but also on your bank account as well.

Freelancers and other small businesses are also at risk of transaction scams, often involving PayPal, which has become a common go-to method for sending and receiving online payments. PayPal scams include overpayments, fake “money received” emails, or requesting to send payment as a friend or family member, which is void of fees but also does not come with seller protection.

It’s not just your business you have to look out for, either. Phishing and spoofing scams can target your customers. This happens when a criminal gains access to your client database via an information breach. They then pose as your business and send messages to your clients. Your customers may be asked to verify account information via a fake link that will capture their keystrokes and give criminals access to their personal information

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Explaining a breach to your customers

How you handle becoming a victim of a scam or data breach can have a significant impact on the future of your business. In case of a breach, Business Insider suggests being as open and as honest as possible with your customers. Tailor your communications to your audience and use language they can understand.

Preventing future issues

There is no way to guarantee you won’t become the target of a future scammer. However, you can protect yourself, your business, your customers, and your employees by taking steps to make it more difficult to infiltrate your business. Using a password manager and encrypting your online stores are especially valuable. And if you work remotely or travel often, they may be even more so. Encrypting your personal devices and ensuring that your software is up to date will add another layer of protection.

There are many factors that determine your weak points and vulnerabilities. If you or your business are compromised, your digital forensics team is your best ally in your efforts to regain your security... and the trust of your customers.

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