How to Protect Your Customers from Data Breach Identity Theft
A Data Breach is the intentional or unintentional release of secure or private/confidential information to an untrusted environment. Other terms for this phenomenon include unintentional information disclosure, data leak and also data spill. Incidents range from concerted attack by black hats associated with organized crime, political activist or national governments to careless disposal of used computer equipment or data storage media and un hackable source.
The effects brought on by a data breach can come in the form of damage to the target company’s reputation due to a perceived ‘betrayal of trust.’ Victims and their customers may also suffer financial losses should related records be part of the information stolen.
Most data breaches are attributed to hacking or malware attacks. Other frequently observed breach methods include the following:
• Insider leak: A trusted individual or person of authority with access privileges steals data.
• Payment card fraud: Payment card data is stolen using physical skimming devices.
• Loss or theft: Portable drives, laptops, office computers, files, and other physical properties are lost or stolen.
• Unintended disclosure: Through mistakes or negligence, sensitive data is exposed.
• Unknown: In a small of number of cases, the actual breach method is unknown or undisclosed
If you’re a small business owner with a website and no security measures or practices in place, you could be at risk. The exact situation is different for each business, but Jorge Rey, chief information security officer for accounting firm Kaufman Rossin, said it’s important for all business owners to assess their vulnerability and determine whether security solutions are needed.
Assess your own risk
Security problems can arise in two main ways: as outside hackers or internal threats. While it’s important to consider outside data breaches, you should look at your internal IT infrastructure policies as well.
Once you’ve analyzed your internal risk, Rey suggests looking at what data you work with and consider its worth to a cybercriminal. If you run a successful e-commerce business where you process and store sensitive credit card information, your security measures will be different from a small business that only has a Google listing online.
How to protect your customer’s data
Once you’ve assessed the risk and considered possible attack scenarios, you can work to mitigate areas with different technology and general best practices.
Restrict access. Michael Baker is a founder and managing partner of Mosaic451, a cybersecurity service provider that is among the top providers in the U.S., according to Inc.com. Baker said that the first step in ensuring customer data is secure is to limit employee access.
Keep technology updated. Baker also said companies should make sure their security software, operating systems and other technology (like POS systems) are up-to-date. Updates ensure that your technology is patched with the latest software to combat security threats.
Invest in new technology. Depending on the type of business you run, you may need different types of technology to mitigate risk. These types of solutions include firewalls, antivirus software, encrypted backups, DDoS appliances and more. Rey said it’s important for small business owners to be aware that the degree of security needed is specific to each business and that installing a firewall or antivirus software may not always be enough.
The challenge with investing in new technology is ensuring that you’re spending the right amount for your business. As a small business owner, accurately assessing risk and determining realistic strategies can be difficult – it can be easy to be oversold (or undersold) on technology.
Partnering with a cybersecurity professional
Protecting your business can be a daunting task, so depending on the type of information you handle, you may want to consider working with a third-party cybersecurity agency. These companies can help you properly assess vulnerabilities and install the right technology for your business. Baker said to be careful, though, as the complicated nature of the topic can be used against naïve small business owners.
Handling cybersecurity is like handling anything for your small business – value sound business logic and decision-making over blind trust. Don’t lunge at the latest and greatest technology, but don’t leave yourself and your customer’s information vulnerable and exposed.
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