Nothing is more important to you as a small business owner than your customers. You've worked hard to engage and secure their trust and confidence in you, and growing your business will depend in large part on maintaining their trust. In today's competitive marketplace, that's more difficult to do than ever.
As hard as you've worked to earn your customers' trust, it can take just one negative experience to break it. Your ability to keep your customers' sensitive data secure is one of those make-it-or-break-it events. It may surprise you, but developing a data protection plan — and then openly communicating it and actively implementing it — is a key way tobuild customer trust. Today's savvy buyers actively look for tangible signs that a business they're interacting with has taken the necessary precautions to secure their sensitive customer data. If they’re not confident that you’ll protect their data, they won’t do business with you. Many online buyers will abandon the transaction process if they don’t have confidence in the online retailer. A solid data protection plan will also safeguard your business’ financial and banking information and the personal information of your employees.
Protecting Your Data versus Becoming a Statistic
We’ve all seen the headlines in recent years about large scale data breaches – an international crime ring hacks into a national retailer, siphoning off millions of payment card details; or a government agency loses millions of personal records that include Social Security numbers. These types of data losses can happen to small businesses as well, although they don’t always lead to national headlines. In fact, Verizon reports that approximately 40% of data breaches in 2012 occurred among companies with fewer than 100 employees. Taking proactive, strategic steps to protect your customer and employee data — and developing a plan for how you would respond should something occur that compromises that data — will:
BBB's Data Security — Made Simpler is here to help address these issues. Data security is not a simple issue to address...but in this guide, we've tried to make the information:
It's written specifically for small business owners, focusing on the most common data security issues small business owners face. It goes beyond telling you what you should be doing; it gives you concrete guidelines, and turn-key suggestionsthat will point you towards solutions and resources that are right-sized for small business owners.
Note: This guide is for businesses based or operating in the United States. Although laws in Canada and Mexico differ, many of the "best practices" in this guide are applicable anywhere. Non-U.S. business owners should check additional resources in their jurisdiction for applicable laws or retractions. BBB plans to expand this guide in the future.