If your company’s data was to become lost, stolen, or hacked would you know what to do? Are you strategically and financially prepared to deal with the repercussions that come with this catastrophic event? If you’ve answered no to either of these questions, your business is more vulnerable than you think. While it is admirable to think only positive things about your business, it can be costly not to prepare. Below are a few tips on how to prepare for a data breach.
It Won’t Happen to Us
Small business owners like to assume that because they have a small company, breaches are less likely to happen to them. Contrary to popular believe, according to a survey conducted by the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, more than half of small businesses had experienced some form of data breach.
Data Breaches Ruin Reputation
While the cost of a data breach should be enough to encourage any business owner to beef up their IT security, knowing that your reputation could be ruined is a close second. When sensitive and confidential information is stolen or lost, customers lose trust in your business and its ability to maintain their rights to privacy. They become insecure about doing business with you altogether, thus moving on to another service provider.
The best thing you can do for your small business is to be proactive in creating a plan of action on the chance that there is a data breach. Below are some suggestions you should consider:
1. Have a Backup Plan – Though you hope that taking preventative measures such as those discussed below, you never know what can happen. A natural disaster, disgruntled employee, or even a damaged hard drive could lead to the loss of sensitive data. Have a backup plan, such as a third party provider like Secure Data Recovery which offers the kind of data recovery Toronto businesses often utilize. They are trained IT professionals who can help recover lost files that can prove sensitive to customers and costly to your business.
2. Check Your Insurance – Review your business insurance coverage to see what is included. There are some great policies that allow for financial coverage in the event of a cyber-attack or data breach. This will help to minimize the financial blow should data ever be compromised.
3. Look Beyond IT – Threats are not always the result of a remote hacker looking to steal your information, there are instances of internal breaches that are the direct result of human errors or malicious employee intent. To be prepared it is important to look at aspects outside of IT department. Evaluate your employee exit strategies, protocols for remote access, as well as policies and procedures for data storage.
4. Educate Your Staff – education is key to minimizing the potential of human error that could result in a breach. It is important that you continually train and educate your staff on the appropriate handling of sensitive company materials. Have them sign a waiver or form stating that they have read and understand what is required of them as an employee. Make sure that any necessary trainings or changes are conducted immediately to all of your staff.
5. Conduct a Risk Assessment – As your business processes and procedures change so can the risk of liability or vulnerability. To ensure you have the best level of protection in place, it is important to conduct a risk assessment on a periodic basis. Having a third party vendor who specializes in IT to complete the assessment is ideal so that you can see clearly where your vulnerabilities are.
6. Update Security Software Frequently – Definitions, types of attacks, and cyber trends are constantly evolving and security software tries to keep up. In order to completely safeguard your company’s data, you’ll need to make sure that you install software updates as they are available.
Though you might be used to reading headlines about big wigs like WalMart, Target, and Verizon, the truth is that cyber-attacks can happen to any business of any size. Small businesses are becoming an increasingly vulnerable group in that they are the least prepared to handle an attack. If you’re vulnerable and currently maintain sensitive consumer or company data, you should begin taking preventative measures as well as employing safeguards should the inevitable occur. While no one wants to find their data compromised, being proactive will get you a lot further than being reactive.