Are you complacent about becoming the target of an online cyber attack?
Many hair & beauty business owners assume they are too small to be of interest to cyber criminals. In fact, hackers often see small businesses as an easy target precisely because they are less likely to have expensive security in place.
‘Cyber streetwise’ campaign
This government-backed campaign to help businesses be more proactive about cyber security found:
- Just 44% of people install internet security software on new equipment
- Only 37% download security updates
- And a mere 30% use complex passwords to protect online accounts.
How would your salon be affected by a cyber attack?
You may think that as a salon or barbershop, where your business is conducted face to face, you’re not especially reliant on the internet and being able to connect online. But think again.
- If your till system is locked by hackers how will you know who is booked in today?
- You won’t be able to make new appointments when clients call.
- Your website could be hacked or down.
- Do you bank or move money about online?
- Do you offer your clients online booking?
- How would it impact on your salon if your emails were down for a few days?
Caution: If all or any these digital connections suddenly stopped because your business and computer systems had been hacked or because data had been lost or stolen, the damage could be immense.
Cyber threats to your business
The term ‘cyber threat’ probably conjures up images of hackers and even state-sponsored cyber terrorism, yet the danger is often much closer to home.
It could be something as innocent as a forgotten password locking your salon system, an employee inadvertently wiping an important file or database, or someone putting confidential data on a memory stick and then losing it.
Or it could be more malicious, such as a disgruntled employee deliberately stealing, destroying or passing on your salon data.
Free legal advice and support on cyber threats
Worried about protecting your salon computers and systems? Think you may have been attacked or hacked? NHF Members can call our Commercial Lifeline for free legal and commercial advice from experienced NHF advisors.
More than just business disruption
Whilst the disruption to your salon or barbershop could be immense, there is also the risk to your client data and financial information.
Hackers can lock, remove or destroy your client list, customer database, financial details, contracts, product pricing data and so on.
It does happen. Hackers have locked UK salon owners out of their salon software and then demanded a substantial payment to allow them access. UK salons have been affected and owners have been left with no choice but to pay up. Some have paid only to find that their data is damaged, incomplete or even destroyed.
There’s also the potential reputational danger to consider. What would be the damage to you if a client’s or a supplier’s financial details were somehow stolen, lost or made public?
Protect your hair & beauty business from hackers
There are simple yet effective steps you can take to protect your salon business against cyber attack and hackers:
- Set up systems so information security becomes a normal part of your day-to-day business risk management procedures. It is important to identify financial and information assets critical to your business, for example the ability to take payments via your website or your client list.
- Assess all IT equipment (including salon mobiles and tablets), looking at how they are managed and who has access to them.
- Invest in good quality ‘malware’ protection, such as anti-virus software. And always download the latest software and app updates as soon as they appear. It could save you an enormous amount of time and trouble in the long run.
- Look at your password policy. Who has access to what and when? What sort of protections are in place? Give your staff appropriate training so everyone understands their role in keeping the business secure.
- Strong passwords are essential. Have strong separate passwords for each account.
Never use any word which is related to you, such as your partner’s or child’s name, date or place of birth, or anything which could be gleaned from your social media such as your favourite sports team. And never share your password with anyone.
Remember: With access to your email, hackers can take control of all your online accounts by simply asking for the password to be reset.
- Educate your team and make it clear what your policy is on when and how the internet can be used in your salon or barbershop.
- Finally, as more and more of us use computers and mobile devices at home, and the divisions between home and work blur, be aware of the dangers of people taking away or accessing data remotely. Read more about out data protection act in our NHF guide.
The risk here is that commercially sensitive information could be lost, misused or corrupted. Another risk is if someone uses their home laptop or computer, which may be less secure, to access or download salon data, in the process potentially compromising the security of the salon system.
How big a threat is cyber crime?
According to the BIS research:
- 87% of small firms experienced a security breach in the previous year.
- The average cost of the worst security breach for small organisations was between £35,000 and £65,000.
- 78% of large organisations were attacked by an unauthorised outsider and 63% of small businesses.
- 57% of small businesses reported staff-related cyber breaches.
Better safe than sorry
It’s too easy to keep ignoring computer security in your hair & beauty business. A few simple inexpensive steps can save you hours of time and considerable sums of money later. Act now.