Business Columns & Blogs

Take steps towards cyber security, protect customer’s data

Emily Valla: BBB Alert
Emily Valla: BBB Alert

Think of all the places your personal information is stored. Not just physically at home, but in online accounts, at the businesses you work with, with your employer, your doctor and so on.

Knowing that data breaches have become all too common, we have to hope these places are protecting our personal information. That’s why cybersecurity must be everyone’s job. Whether you’re an owner, manager or staff member, you are a crucial part of protecting information.

We know criminals want to attack big businesses, but small businesses are not immune. Bad guys target smaller organizations because they expect there to be fewer resources and defenses safeguarding data.

Research by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Symantec on small businesses has shown that two thirds say their businesses depend on the internet for day-to-day operations. Sixty-nine percent say they handle sensitive information, including customer data; 49 percent have financial records and reports; 23 percent have their own intellectual property; and 18 percent handle intellectual property belonging to others.

Ask yourself: What information do you collect, why and how do you protect it? Who has access to it? What would you do if there was a breach?

Cyber security is a complex topic, but there are basic steps you can take to protect you and your customers’ data. The NCSA recommends:

Have (and follow) a privacy policy: Your company’s website should have a privacy policy that tells customers what information you collect and how you use it.

Know what you have: You should be aware of all the personal information you have about your customers, where you’re storing it, how you are using it, who has access to it and how you protect it.

Keep what you need and delete what you don’t: While it’s tempting to keep information for future use, the less you collect and store, the less opportunity there is for something to go wrong.

Protect what they give you: If you’re holding onto information about your customers, you must keep it secure.

Keep your system protected: Make sure your security software and system updates are current, and download updates as they become available. Scan new devices before you connect them to your network. Set up a spam filter to limit malicious and phishing emails.

Make a commitment to security: Train employees and keep on top of new risks. The NCSA and are great places to start the conversation and keep it going year round.

Emily Valla,, is the Idaho marketplace director for the Better Business Bureau Northwest. To check a business or report a scam, go to or call (208) 342-4649.