No matter what size business you run, security is a big issue. You absolutely must protect your employee and customer data. According to a new survey, you recognize the importance your customers place on protecting their information (83 percent say it is very or extremely important to their customers) and 87 percent of you think your customers would affirm their trust in your business if they saw how you handle their data.
But what’s concerning about this survey is that many of your methods of storing sensitive information may make you an increased target for data thieves. Specifically:
- 37 percent of card-accepting businesses store customer card numbers;
- 24 percent store customer Social Security Numbers;
- 28 percent store customer bank account numbers or copies of their checks;
This is exactly the sort of personal information that criminals seek in order to commit payment fraud.
Few small businesses have established data-security processes in place, the survey shows. Most small businesses (57 percent) do not see securing customer data as something that requires formal planning, and many (39 percent) say they rely on common sense to keep data safe. Most small businesses (61 percent) have never sought out information about how to properly handle and store customer information.
"Today, consumers are increasingly demanding that the companies they do business with take action to protect their personal information," said Dan Danner, Executive Vice President, Public Policy and Political, National Federation of Independent Business. "Small businesses understand the importance of customer service and, increasingly, good customer service includes proper handling of customer information. Today´s small businesses need to understand their data practices and make their systems more secure."
"The entrepreneurial, go-it-alone spirit that drives many small businesses may actually work against them on important issues like security. In today´s environment, data security takes thoughtful planning and practices," said Rosetta Jones, Vice President, Visa USA.
To reach as many small businesses as possible, NFIB and Visa will be launching a comprehensive data security education program later this year. Combining Internet technology in-market events and turnkey materials, the effort will be designed to be as accessible as possible to today´s fast-paced, busy small business owners and employees. Watch this space for more information on the launch of that initiative.