The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken the world by storm, causing a global health and economic crisis. While state stay-at-home orders imposed in response to the outbreak have deemed construction supply companies as essential businesses, it doesn’t mean dealers can operate business as usual. Many are required to change the way they conduct their business, and, when they do, they shouldn’t forget about security.

Because of social distancing orders, dealers have been closing stores to customers and instead promoting curbside pickup and deliveries to keep business humming. They’ve also encouraged employees to work from home, if possible, and staggered staffing schedules to minimize contact between employees. These are all new and significant changes to the way dealers normally operate. And it’s difficult to guess, with any degree of accuracy, how long dealers will be required to conduct business this way. Dealers could be forced to operate under these new conditions for a year, or more, especially if we’re depending on a coronavirus vaccine to help us return to business as usual.

However, one thing is clear: Until the pandemic is behind us, dealers must figure out new ways to interact and transact with customers that protect everyone involved. If you haven’t yet leveraged digital technology for this purpose, now’s your chance to encourage phone, email, and web interactions and transactions. But as you make this transition, make sure to protect sensitive customer and employee data.

Hackers prey on vulnerabilities in times of change, when things are chaotic and new security best practices haven’t yet been implemented. So be vigilant. Don’t let employees leave sensitive customer data, such as credit card information, out in the open (on desks or countertops) for wandering eyes—including those of your employees—to see. All someone has to do is use a smartphone to snap a photo of this sensitive data. Thieves can do that right in front of you, undetected.

There are other security measures to consider, as well. If you’re enabling employees to work from home, make sure your virtual private network and other remote access systems are fully protected. Ensure all computers have properly configured firewalls and anti-malware and intrusion prevention installed. If you have fewer employees at your branch due to social distancing orders, you have fewer people on premises to notice someone who doesn’t belong there. Consider enhancing your electronic monitoring capabilities so that you receive early detection and alerts about unusual activity. Visit for more security and risk management information. Stay safe.