Online security and discontinuity of cheques

Online security is set to become even more important due to the cheque guarantee scheme being discontinued on 30th June 2011 and the widely argued discontinuity of cheques which is expected to happen by 2018.

This will be an issue for many small businesses who are used with taking payment in this form.  Many businesses rely entirely on this alternative payment method instead of accepting cash such as plumbers, electricians, builders and many individuals simply prefer this option as they don’t trust/understand banking online.

And don’t forget our day to day transactions of paying for our children’s school trips and gifts inside cards, I certainly won’t be sending any cash through the post!

Pensioners may be particularly hard hit by the demise of the cheque, while companies have pointed out that the cost of processing debit and credit card payments will eat into their profits.

With this in mind the use of direct debits is set to increase over the coming years along with online banking of course.

It is more important than ever that businesses and individuals make sure they have performed the necessary checks to ensure they are fully secure from viruses, worms, malwares and other nasty’s that can infect and hack into our systems.  All of the above are usually self-replicating and it doesn’t cost the online criminals anything so they don’t care about the extent of the damage.

You can do a number of things in defence which will keep you and your business safe.

Install security software which includes anti-virus, anti-spyware and a firewall.  There are plenty of free versions available although for a small monthly cost you can get some very sophisticated versions online.

Always keep your computer up to date with the latest versions and block any spam emails you might receive.  If you also use an up to date web browser it will make it harder for the offenders to get into your PC in the first place.

It’s a good idea to make a user account rather than performing day to day transactions in an administrator account.  If you’re using Windows Vista keep the user account control switched on.  This will enable you to perform the necessary work on your PC if your main user account becomes infected.

As a last resort, make sure you make a backup of all company data, photos and music so that if something does take over your computer you can get up and running again as quickly as possible.

Finally always encrypt your wireless connections so that you remain in control of the websites which are being accessed.

These spywares and viruses can invade to destroy your privacy, picking up email accounts, passwords and banking logins.  We may find a lot of new users dipping their toe into the online water in the next few years and doing so in a hurry.

Research has identified that 76% of businesses did not know that the cheque guarantee scheme was being abolished next month and three out of five businesses have not made any plans for an alternative payment method.   Start thinking now about how your business could be affected and the security measures you’ll need to put in place.


By graeme on May 10, 2011

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