The timely January debut of “Privacy in the Age of Big Data,” a book co-authored by Charlotte residents Theresa Payton and Ted Claypoole, landed Payton on ''The Daily Show with Jon Stewart'' last month.
And while the Target hacking attack has many people worried these days about the safety of their personal information, Claypoole likes to point out that the issue of cybersecurity is always on trend.
“The battle between the cyberpolice and the cybercriminals is an eternal struggle,” says Claypoole, an attorney who leads the privacy and data management team at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. “You have to think about where (you’re) vulnerable.”
Payton is a former White House chief information officer and founder of Charlotte-based Fortalice, a security, risk and fraud consulting company. The duo also wrote “Protecting Your Internet Identity: Are you Naked Online?” which published in 2012.
The hackers who stole millions of customers’ credit and debit card numbers from Target during the holiday shopping season shows the issue of card security is not going away. It also illustrates how all types of businesses – even small companies and retailers – are at risk, Claypoole says.
Here are Claypoole’s tips on what small businesses should do to protect themselves:
Also, small businesses may be vulnerable because of the vendors they use. So a hacker may not pick your coffee shop, but rather target the payment processor who handles your customers’ credit and debit card numbers – as well as thousands of other mom and pop shops.
Your point-of-sale system, or what used to be called a cash register, could make your business vulnerable to an attack. Many people have it connected to their computer system for record keeping. But there are ways hackers can tap into those systems.
“When you set up your system, you have to make sure you close all those cyberdoors, and close them well. If the key to your system is encrypted, but your encryption is 12345, or your password is ‘admin’ … it’s like closing the door, but not locking it when you leave.”
Also think about which computers actually need to be connected to the Internet, Claypoole says. Consider storing information that is critical to your business on a separate computer that’s not connected.
“Really big companies keep that in mind and have a lot of computers that are not connected to the Internet,” Claypoole says. “It’s a strategy that many small businesses don’t think about.”
“Getting one of these can be a huge problem,” Claypoole says. “You’re probably better off as a small business bringing a professional in” – or getting a new computer.
Just be careful that you don’t bring back the malware, Claypoole says.
The Associated Press contributed.