Cyber theft is no longer just a big-business problem, and the conversation concerning cyber security can be confusing and complex.

The important question really is: What can you do to protect your business from cyber threats?

Here are four easy steps you can take to make your business more secure and protect your customers’ sensitive information from cyber criminals.

1. Install a proper firewall on your network

A proper firewall is the first line of defense when a hacker tries to access your payment terminal. Nowadays, a hacker can insert malware into your terminal and steal important data (personal information, credit card data, etc) from anywhere in the world.

A firewall protects your computer from malware and other common methods cyber criminals use. For example, firewalls can detect when large amounts of data are being implanted on or extracted from your network. If the activity has not been authorized by the appropriate personal, the firewall will automatically shut down the process.

2. Have a separate network for your payment terminal

Separating your payment terminal network from your general store network greatly decreases the likelihood of a successful cyber attack. Oftentimes, hackers get into your system through your employees. By hacking into an employee’s computer via an infected email, cyber criminals can often steal the access data for your network, thereby obtaining a free access pass to your network and payment terminal.

If you put your payment terminal on a separate network, one which only has one or two educated individuals with authorization, the likelihood of success for cyber criminals is significantly minimized. They have to work a lot harder to get in, meaning they will probably skip your business and move onto the next, hoping for an easier target.

3. Change usernames and passwords on all access points every 90 days

First off, make sure you change default usernames and passwords on your network as quickly as possible. These are often known to cyber criminals and make your business extremely vulnerable to cyber attack if they remain unchanged.

Also, be sure to change your usernames and passwords at least every 90 days. Changing them even more often is never a bad idea. The longer a password remains the same, the more chance it has of being hacked by cyber criminals. Most network providers have a how-to guide included with their network package that explains how to change usernames and passwords.

4. Use a security software that tests for vulnerabilities

There are various software options that test your network and payment terminals for breach vulnerability. The first thing you need to do, is to check with your payment processor. Some offer free firewall and security testing as part of their package.

If you do not already have access to a Security Software, ControlScan Inc’s PCI 1-2-3 is a pretty good option. This software conducts vulnerability scans, provides reports, and has detailed instructions to help you secure any weak areas. Cyber security training for employees is included as well. PCI 1-2-3 costs $250/yr plus another $100 per extra IP address.


Protecting your customers’ information should be one of your top priorities. If you are ever breached, you run the risk of losing your customers’ trust. In fact, according to Fit Small Business, “60% of small businesses that suffer a data breach are out of business 6 months later,” because of the costly fees and loss of business.

Do not let your business run that risk. Take the necessary steps, as outlined above, to ensure that your business is secure.

AvatarMarc Prosser

Marc Prosser is the publisher and co-founder of Fit Small Business, a "how to" publication for small business owners. Prior to starting Fit Small Business, Marc Prosser served as the Chief Marketing Officer of FXCM (NYSE:FXCM). During his eleven year tenure as CMO, the company grew from under 10 people to over 500 employees located throughout the globe.