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On the offensive: Don’t let a data breach put a damper on your holiday sales

By David J. Sexton

When you think about theft within your business, protecting your inventory is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Unfortunately, there are other ways your business can be harmed. Data theft and fraud can have an even greater financial impact on your bottom line.

If you’re storing records electronically, taking payment via credit card, or paying employees, you’re working with personally identifying information, which includes details beyond already public knowledge, such as account numbers. When that information is breached, it can be big news and cause serious damage to your reputation and bottom line.

So how can you keep safe something you can’t really see or touch? Consider the following:

Limit what is portable. One lost laptop can unveil a plethora of personal data, ranging from employees’ social insurance numbers to customers’ credit card numbers. Set a password on your computer and store your records on an encrypted hard drive.

While some hackers have gotten around encryption, it is considerably more difficult to access encrypted data versus unencrypted data. Another benefit to using encryption is that, in some provinces, you’re only required to report breaches to customers when the data was unencrypted.

Keep your eye on employees. When you’re thinking about data breach and cyber-related security issues, it’s not just some faraway hackers you need to worry about. Nearly 47 per cent of recorded breaches are due to malicious attacks, which is the combination of hacking and insider theft. That’s why it’s important to limit the number of employees who have access to sensitive data.

A computer flash drive or music file-sharing software  and access to the files is all it takes for an employee to create a data breach. Nearly two-thirds of data breaches are due to human error and systems glitches. Even when the breach is accidental, the information trusted to your business could be in criminals’ hands.

Shred your files. As with most types of traditional crime, jewellers are at special risk for data breach. Invest in hiring a reputable and secure shredding and disposal service to protect any printed copies of information you work with on a daily basis.

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