Small Business Owners: Ignore These Cyber Security Tips at Your Own Peril

Data theft and other cyber crimes are on the rise, making it important for SMB owners to start following cyber security best practices. Many SMB owners don’t have the knowledge or time to develop a cybersecurity plan, so we are here to help.

Cyber security doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to be effective. SMB owners can implement these straightforward policies and practices below to improve security without making life too hard or adding many new business expenses.

Train your employees

You’ll need to teach your employees about cyber security best practices. If you have a large team or a lot of remote workers, then think about using online training tools. Look for vendors that offer custom elearning development, so you can create training best suited to your workforce.

Lock computers when away from your desk

Locking your computer when you step away is one of the easiest ways to improve cyber security. It removes the risk of someone seeing something they shouldn’t or snooping through your files while you’re in a meeting or grabbing something to drink.

Set your computer to lock after two minutes of no activity and insist that all your employees do the same.

Use strong passwords

Ensure that you and your employees are using passwords with a mix of letters, numbers, capitalization, and special characters. You also want the passwords to be unique and not obviously related to a person’s life. Avoid birthdays, nicknames, children’s names and other things that can be guessed.

If your employees can’t come up with strong passwords, then start using a password generator.

Install firewall software

A good firewall will keep many security threats from ever reaching your network. You also gain the tools to limit the sites that your employees can access at work, and block IP addresses or domains that are known to deliver malware.

Use anti-virus software

Keep trojan horses and other data-stealing software off your system by installing and regularly updating your antivirus software. Every employee should have up-to-date virus scanning and protection software on their electronic devices.

Setup anti-virus software to download and install updates during off-hours, so you don’t have to depend on employees to remember updates or take time out of their days to install them.

Encrypt sensitive information

Add an additional layer of protection to your most sensitive information by encrypting documents and their folders. Many cloud storage services offer basic encryption, but there is nothing wrong with getting even more protection.

There are many services that will allow you to encrypt documents including email. Some are cloud-based while others require software to be installed. Do a little research and you’ll find one that meets your budget and security needs.

Keep software up-to-date

Everyone complains about software patches and updates, but they are essential to cyber security. Updates remove known security flaws and often remove vulnerabilities before they become widely-known or exploited. Almost every update from Windows, Apple or Google Android includes security improvements, so don’t neglect to install them.

Separate guest & employee Internet connections

If you regularly host non-employees for meetings or offer public wifi, then it’s important to keep your business data separate from everything else. Setup a guest network or guest credentials that visitors can use for internet access. This extra layer or security will make it harder for cyber criminals to get onto your network and snoop around.
There is always more you can do to help keep your business secure and ensure that steady growth continues happening, but this list will let you thwart the most common ways that hackers gain access.

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Improve eCommerce Conversion Rate

Poor user experience is one of the top reasons that people leave websites without purchasing. In fact, 25 percent of shoppers will leave a website if it is too difficult to use. One of the areas where customers find a website offers a poor user experience is during the checkout process. If the process is complicated, lengthy or intrusive, a consumer will leave that site and purchase from a competitor with a better checkout procedure. If you want to make the purchasing process easier for your customers, there are a few adjustments you can make to your system that will lead to a sale. Keep reading for a few helpful tips to improve eCommerce conversion rate.

Do Not Require Account Setup

It is understandable why an online business may want to have customers set up an account with them when they checkout. In fact, 24 percent currently do so. However, by requiring consumers to register, you may be alienating a large number of them. Signing up for an account means more steps to the checkout procedure and consumers are already exhausted by trying to remember a myriad of user names and passwords.

Customers also don’t understand the need to set up an account since when they visit a brick-and-mortar store, they are not asked to create an account. If you want to build a database of customers, adding a registration section is fine, but always include the option to purchase as a guest as well.

Multiple Payment Methods

When consumers check out on a website, as many as 58 percent of them expect a variety of payment options. Although it is impossible to offer every conceivable payment option, not all consumers use credit or debit cards to purchase items, even online. Offering a third-party payment processor, such as Paypal or Venmo, electronic checks and debit or credit card payments gives a consumer multiple methods for purchasing from your website.

According to professionals who specialize in credit card processing services for businesses, it is also a good idea to make sure that your payment process is acceptable on several different devices, and that the mobile pay is up to date.

Don’t Let Errors Slow them Down

When people are typing in information, they often make mistakes. Either they miss a number in their credit card, misspelled their email address, or added an extra numeral somewhere on accident. Make it easy for them to find and correct any errors that are made on the checkout page. If an error is discovered by you checkout system, have the screen scroll directly to the error with an explanation of the problem.

Also, when an error occurs, be sure that the data that is correct is not eliminated. Nothing frustrates a customer faster than spending ten minutes to fill out all of their information, only to have it deleted because they added one letter too many.

Don’t Overload them by Asking for Too Much Information

No one wants to fill out forms full of information when they are buying something online, especially if the information has nothing to do with the purchase. If you are asking for an email address, you probably do not need a phone number as you can ask the consumer any question you may have via email. This applies to credit card payment fields as well.

Always add a click box that allows the customer to automatically fill in the billing information when it is the same as the mailing information.

Security Concerns

One of the biggest reasons that customers leave at the checkout page is concerns about the security of their payment. In a recent study, 58 percent of customers said that they had left a website when they did not feel as if their payment would remain secure. Be sure to offer Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates that provide a secure connection and encrypts credit card data. You also should comply with the PCI Security Standards Council requirements as well.

Don’t Let Distractions Get in the Way

When a customer arrives at the checkout page, they are finished with your website and ready to purchase their items. Do not place advertisements on your checkout page or make customers click through pages with items similar to what they have purchased in hopes they will buy more.

Allow customers to navigate easily from the sales section of the site to the checkout section. Most customers will see through any gimmicks that try to get them to buy more, so when they are ready to check out, make it easy for them to do so.

If you want to keep your customers from abandoning your site and going to a competitor, do everything you can to make the purchasing process as easy as possible. There are plenty of tactics you can use to drive traffic to your site, and to keep visitors interested once they are there, but the checkout process is not the time to try these methods.

Whether your customers purchase products or services online, in the store, or through mobile payment, they are more likely to go through with the purchase if the process is convenient. Do what you can to expedite the purchasing process and enjoy happy customers that are willing to come back again and again.

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