Something all business owners face from time to time is an employee who doesn’t work out. And every so often, one of these employees turns vindictive. As a tech consultant, I’ve heard stories that blow my mind, things I never thought someone would really do.
Possibly the worst – an ex-employee from an internet service provider wiped out all their email. When I say all their email, I mean ALL their email, including all their customers’ email! Not only did the company pay, they lost tons of business and had to work their tails off to make good with all the rest who stayed. No lawsuit makes up for that kind of damage.
While we like to think we work with good, trustworthy people, what if we don’t? Financial motivations in this economy are leading to a steep increase in employee data theft. What if one of our employees is angry and wants to get back at the boss? A dissatisfied employee can very quickly cause serious damage by deleting data files, corrupting your financial records, or downloading viruses to your network. A good security policy is a necessity.
Secure confidential data files by setting up password-protected directories. Take advantage of built-in software capabilities to designate specific users for any software with sensitive data (financials, social security numbers, credit cards, etc.), and limit access so they have just what’s needed to do their job. Change your firewall settings to limit Internet downloads. And most important – promptly remove security access for any employees who leave your company.
You’ll have to balance safety versus productivity. Too much security can cause administrative headaches, creating employee frustration that eventually may lead you to remove important security settings. However, it’s far better to spend a little time being proactive than to find out the hard way you should have been more careful.
When PayPal first arrived in the late 90s, people were skeptical. We knew to be careful when shopping online; occasional glitches in their systems coupled with rapid growth and poor customer service caused mass concerns over their honesty and ethics.
Today, PayPal is a widely accepted and trusted payment option in the online world. It’s an easy way for nearly any business to begin accepting credit cards. Thanks to low transaction fees and no monthly charges for its basic service, it’s also one of the cheapest.
What you can do with PayPal
- Make online payments–if you shop for specialty items, you may find small businesses online, and with PayPal you don’t have to worry about giving up your credit card
- Accept payments on your website–it is fairly straightforward to add a “buy now” button or even create a PayPal shopping cart; if you run a non-profit, check out the “donate now” buttons
- Send electronic invoices–not only can you send credit card invoices from PayPal’s website, they even offer a wizard to request money straight from QuickBooks
- Purchase bargains on eBay–there’s no telling what you might find on eBay, but you can often find slightly-used big-ticket items on sale for a fraction of the retail price, and PayPal is the payment method of choice
- Sign up subscribers–PayPal offers a subscription feature that automatically collects recurring payments like renewable subscriptions (e.g. annual magazine payments, monthly website hosting fees, weekly retainer fees, etc.); you can even do a discounted trial period
They have many more features offered for a nominal fee, and they continue to upgrade their services. Visit PayPal and check out the merchant services tab to get the latest scoop.
If you accept credit cards, whether online or in-person, you are required to meet PCI compliance standards. These regulations have been around a while now, although it seems that many small business owners aren’t yet up on the latest. Don’t get hit with steep penalties for any security breech–learn more about compliance now, before it’s too late.
The regulations center on protecting credit card data, which includes secure storage, encrypted transmission, limited access, and more. E-commerce and point-of-sale solutions are impacted, along with anyone else who stores credit card information for any reason.
You can find the full requirements here:
This guide speaks to the requirements in plain English:
And this video, produced by the Retail Solutions Providers Association, provides an inside look at how these regulations have devastated a number of businesses who weren’t prepared:
The bottom line? If PCI applies to you, take measures now to ensure your company is protected.