Let’s face it, chances are high that your information is out there. You likely conduct business, socialize, network, and pass the time online. Don’t we all? Where would life be without memes? If proper steps aren’t taken to protect your business and personal information, a data breach can occur and can be costly.
What is a data breach? A data breach is when information is stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or authorization of the system's owner. The fact is, data breaches are happening at an alarming rate year after year. While many small businesses are taking steps to prevent them, cyberattacks are becoming far more advanced, and the security measures to prevent them are harder to maintain.
The Increase in Data Breaches
The attacks keep coming. A report about 2021 from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) stated that there were 1,862 data breaches last year, surpassing both 2020's total of 1,108 and the high total of 1,506 in 2017. That’s not the whole story. After all, 1,862 doesn’t sound so bad. Consider the number of people impacted by those data breaches: 294 million.
How does this keep happening if IT departments are trained on preventing data breaches? Simply put, cybercriminals are finding workarounds and succeeding at it ten-fold. There are ways your small business can address data breaches and cyber-attacks. Here are some steps on how to do just that!
- Purchase cyber insurance. Cyber insurance will protect your small business from losses relating to data breaches and other common cybercrimes. 60% of small businesses close after experiencing a data breach or cyber attack. Cyber insurance typically helps prevent that by restoring data, covering the lost business, providing services to communicate the breach to customers, and most related legal and defense costs. Cyber insurance is becoming an increasingly crucial coverage for small businesses.
- Report a data breach. Research the data breach laws in your state. You may need to notify each affected individual that the breach occurred in certain situations. For example, if the data breach infringes on an individual’s rights and freedoms, it should be reported immediately. It is also crucial to report it if someone’s personal or business information, such as financial records and identity information, is released. Notifying customers allows them to change all of their passwords and freeze their credit if needed.
- Steps your small business can take to prevent a data breach. Teach employees how to secure their devices with a VPN, have them change their passwords often, and let them know it is best not to share too much information online. Using a different password for each account is essential. There are password managers to assist in this. Train employees on how to spot malicious emails and instruct them not to open or download attachments unless it is from an approved customer or vendor. If you have an IT staff, they can lead the charge on preventing cyber attacks. Consider contracting with a cyber security expert to advise them.
Now that we are in 2022, we should not expect data breaches to slow down. There is simply too much evidence to suggest that they won’t. With better preventive measures in place, your small business can avoid the costly destruction a data breach could create for you and your employees.
Data protection and data security are crucial elements to protect your business and your employees’ information online. We live in an era where nothing is private online anymore, but that doesn’t mean your business and your employees should fall victim to someone trying to steal their information and data. Cyber insurance and proper training are great ways to reduce the risk of a data breach impacting your business’s success.