How to minimize damage and prevent future breaches.
In 2019, over one-third of small businesses experienced a data breach or information security issue. Although data breaches at large organizations grab headlines, small organizations are often bigger targets and just as, if not more likely, to experience a breach than large corporations because they have enough valuable assets worth pursuing and less security for hackers to combat.
The consequences of a data breach can impact a small business for years. Information breaches hurt organizations’ reputations, lower their revenue, lead to expensive lawsuits and rack up other costly damages that can drive small companies out of business.
While the threat of data breaches can be overwhelming, they can be overcome. If you navigate the aftermath properly, your business can recover and get back to normal operations. Should your small business face a data breach, the steps below can help minimize damage and protect from future risks.
1. Be transparent and accommodating for your customers.
Your customers trust your business with personal information. If that trust is broken by a data breach, give your customers peace of mind with some damage control. Without your reassurance and honesty, customers will grow angry with your company. And if their identities are stolen because of your data breach, they may blame your lack of security and efforts to keep their information safe.
To avoid legal troubles and maintain a dedicated client base, you need to be present for your customers and prove you’re doing everything in your power to keep them safe. You should also consider offering identity theft protection to customers for at least a year following a breach.
2. Identify what was stolen and how it was accessed.
In order to determine the severity of a breach, you must determine what information was uncovered. Leaked names and addresses will likely not cause permanent damage though they’re a nuisance. However, if Social Security numbers and passwords to online accounts or financial records are taken, the impact could be much more severe.
Once you know what data has been lifted from your records, you can tailor your response accordingly. Work with law enforcement and security agencies to discover how the breach occurred, then start planning to prevent future attacks.
3. Upgrade your security and software.
Data breaches affecting your company can be targeted at your own information systems or those of companies doing business with you. Either way, you can improve your security to protect from both internal and external threats.
Update your company’s software and technology as often as possible. While it may be difficult for small businesses to financially justify regular updates, out-of-date and easy-to-hack technology can cost far more in the long run. Keep your software systems up to date with the latest manufacturer system and security updates.
And when the time comes to get rid of your company’s old computers, make sure their information is completely inaccessible. Just because you no longer use a computer doesn’t mean its data can’t be recovered and used against you.
At DataShield, we offer secure data destruction and electronic recycling to help you keep your tech up to date and safe from hackers. To learn more about how we can protect your company from data breaches, contact us.