That’s no wonder considering high-profile security breaches at trusted institutions that range from retailer Target to health insurer Anthem left thousands of consumers’ data vulnerable to identify thieves.
If you’re organizing a race this year, cybersecurity should be on your mind, too.
New Thinking on Cybersecurity to Prevent Breaches
President Obama even got in on the action recently, hosting executives from tech giants and bank behemoths for the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University, just miles from the heart of Silicon Valley.
New efforts to coordinate government agencies and private businesses in the fight to secure consumer data were signed into law by an executive order Friday, Feb.13.
“It can help make it easier for companies to get the classified cybersecurity threat information they need,” Obama said, according to U.S. News and World Report. “Everybody is online, and everybody is vulnerable.”
Where does this leave you?
If you’re taking payments and storing important forms online, it’s time to think about how to protect your customers’ personal information.
1. Protecting the Plastic. For event directors, the most vulnerable piece of data is credit card information. The credit card industry maintains different levels of certification for companies that process card transactions. The highest level means that a third-party has verified the company is doing everything possible to keep customers’ data safe.
Easily check to see if your provider is verified.
Ask your technology provider about their level of security and listen for details on encryption, firewalls and where the data is stored—in another company’s cloud or with them?
2. Passwords are still important. Get into the habit of creating strong passwords that are difficult to hack and changing them often, particularly on machines that you use to process event payment. If you’re using your cell phone or tablet to access any customer data (like phone numbers or email addresses), then be sure you have a passcode on that as well.
3. Update software regularly. It seems super-simple, but critical software on your phone, computer or tablet (think browser, operating system or registration software) should be updated when improvements are available. Those pesky reminders often denote important tweaks in security.
4. Train your workers and volunteers in good cyber hygiene. You’re only one person, so you probably work with a team to make your races happen. Make sure everyone is password-protecting computers and phones that may transmit customer data. Educate everyone on how to create strong passwords and follow-up to be sure passwords are changed regularly.
5. Keep sensitive data on a need-to-know basis. Think about who on your team really needs to see runner information and only give access to those people. Keep a tight lock on all data that isn’t necessary for a person’s job function.
For more tips, the Federal Communications Commission offers advice for small business owners.