For small-business owners, the advent of technology that enables smart phones to scan credit cards means the ability to make a sale anytime, anywhere, regardless of whether or not customers have cash handy. It also means an increase in the number of data breach opportunities.
Here's a look at what small-business owners should watch out for to maximize profits and minimize their exposure to losses related to cyber crimes.
The 4 Biggest Threats to Mobile Devices
Business owners who rely on mobile devices on the go or in the office can reduce their risk of data exposure by protecting against the four main threats to mobile device users:
- Employee negligence: Unfortunately, 39 percent of data breaches involve employee mistakes, according to a 2012 study by the Ponemon Institute, which are often caused by hurrying through a task or misunderstanding the risks involved.
- Theft and misplacement of devices: Nearly 40 percent of data breaches occur when a mobile device (including a laptop, smart phone, tablet, or USB drive) is misplaced or stolen.
- Malicious attacks: While the perception remains that ill-intentioned hackers are responsible for most data breaches, attacks account for only 37 percent of such events.
- System malfunctions: Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of breaches happen when a system error led to improper exposure of information.
Mobile Adoption Spreading to Larger Businesses
The good news for small businesses is that, while they may face greater loss margins from data breaches, they are not alone in facing risks from mobile. Larger businesses (including the department store Nordstrom) are hopping on the mobile bandwagon, offering mobile checkout options via modified iPods in stores.
From the consumer's perspective, this means that the risk of a mobile-related data breach is not the unique terrain of dealing with small businesses-in other words, it means that small businesses do not face an intrinsic disadvantage because of their frequent reliance on mobile.
It does, however, mean that small businesses need to have a robust system in place for dealing with the risks associated with mobile. Cyber liability insurance helps protect after a data breach has already occurred, but on the front end, small businesses can invest in employee education and training for mobile device usage, remote device management systems that allow for the wiping out of a device's information in the event of loss or theft, and encryption and protection protocol that make customer data more difficult to access.