October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising business owners to protect their identity when using online banking.
Online banking is a great tool to help small businesses quickly and conveniently track financial information, as well as pay their bills and employees. However, data thieves are now targeting small business owners — and their employees — to get access to their online banking credentials and accounts so that they can make unauthorized money transfers. A small business can protect itself against increased liability on its financial transactions by using strong procedures to secure the credentials they use to access their bank accounts.
“In this day and age when practically everything is done on the Internet, it’s extremely important to take the necessary precautions,” said Patrick Bennett, BBB Director of Community Relations. “Not only are your business’ financials at risk when you don’t secure your banking, but your employees records could be compromised, too.”
BBB recommends the following guidelines to help you protect the computers you use to access your bank accounts and your online access credentials.
Initiate a "dual control" payment process with your bank and employees. Ensure that all payments are initiated from your bank accounts only after the authorization of two employees. One employee will authorize the creation of the payment file and a second employee will be responsible for authorizing the release of the file. This process should be in place regardless of the type of payment being initiated-including checks, wire transfers, fund transfers, payroll files, ACH payments, etc.
Have dedicated workstations. Restrict the use of certain workstations and laptops to be utilized solely for online banking and payments, if possible. For example, a workstation or laptop used for online banking should not be used for web browsing or social networking.
Use robust authentication methods and vendors. Make sure your financial service providers allow for "multi-factor authentication." This means that you need more than just a username and password to access your account.
Update virus protection and security software. Ensure that all anti-spyware, anti-malware, and security software and mechanisms are robust and up-to-date for all computer workstations and laptops used for online banking and payments. Implement a process to periodically confirm they remain up-to-date. Security patches are often available via automatic updates.
Reconcile accounts daily. Monitor and reconcile accounts daily against expected credits and withdrawals. If you see any kind of unexpected activity on your account, notify your financial institution immediately.
For more tips on data security, visit www.bbb.org/data-security.
About Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan is a non-profit organization with the purpose of assisting in the protection of consumers and businesses from fraud and unethical business practices in the local marketplace. In addition to its recognized dispute resolution services, BBB maintains business reviews on the customer service history of more than 80,000 local businesses and provides consumer education materials on numerous topics. The service area of BBB Serving Eastern includes the eastern half of Michigan’s lower peninsula and the entire upper peninsula. For more information, visit www.easternmichiganbbb.org.