A recent study revealed that, on average, there are three data breach incidents occurring every week in the U.S. Just because you run a small business, doesn’t ensure that your confidential organizational data is safe or a hacker wouldn’t target it. As a matter of fact, small businesses are more vulnerable to data breaches simply because they are small and often not prepared for the tricks. A data security breach can cripple or even kill your business. According to Bindu Sundaresan, a senior security professional for AT&T, “They feel like ‘Who’s going to come after me?’ Small businesses don’t want to spend their whole IT budget on cybersecurity.”
The Real Cost of Small-Business Data Security
According to the latest Cost of a Data Breach Study by IBM, the costs associated with a data breach have heaved to $3.92 million in 2019. The research added that the probability of suffering a data breach is snowballing, and small businesses face higher costs relative to their size. Massive data breaches and cyberattacks like we witnessed with Facebook and Marriot in 2018 have continued to open the business owner’s eyes to the significant impact and devastating costs of a data breach. In reality, the vast majority of data breaches occur in small and midsize companies, and according to research, more than 60 percent of small businesses shut down within six months of a cyberattack. Hackers find small businesses an easy target due to lack of processes, security breach policy, and IT teams. One significant reason for data breaches is that more information and different types of information are retained in various storage solutions than ever before.
The latest U.S. census data shows that on average small business made approximately $400,000 per year. Another research study on the cost of data breaches by Kaspersky Labs revealed that one data breach incident within a small business organization can cost around $120,000. This implies that, on average, one data breach incident takes out more than 25% of a small business’s revenue.
Is Your Small Business Safe in Case of A Data Breach?
You need to evaluate your current data security policy and you can start with these questions:
- Does your policy have global coverage?
- Have you identified first- and third-party remedies in the policy in case of a data breach?
- Have you identified specific exclusions in your policy?
- If there is a malware lurking in your software months before discovery, how will your security policy respond?
- What will you do if a hacker holds your system hostage? Have you prepared your system for that?
If large companies like Equifax and Maersk can lose millions of dollars during data breaches, what can a small business enterprise do to protect their confidential data? Better data security doesn’t mean you have to break the budget. In fact, a small business can implement “the basics in terms of security.”
Data Protection Tips for Small Businesses
Here are some suggestions for securing your confidential customer data and organizational system:
1. Know what you are protecting
2. Educate your employees
Besides, you will need to train the technical support team as employees can also cause breaches accidentally. The more your employees know about cyber threats and data protection tools, the safer your organization will be. Ensure that your employees understand the importance of company data and penalties for failing to follow security protocols. Norman Guadagno, Chief Evangelist, Carbonite said: “Cyberattacks are becoming more and more sophisticated and it’s easy to be fooled by emails, links, and attachments that look like everyday business requests.” According to an analysis of more than 1,000 risk assessments revealed, only 43 percent have pursued to educate their employees about cyberattacks. It may be as simple as asking them to change their passwords regularly. You can remind them not to open attachments from unauthorized people.
3. Limit access
Even if a security breach happens, having layered security to keep the confidential data safe can save you tons. This implies that you have to limit access to certain types of information. Spam filters can help you keep your system safe from malware and phishing scams. You can add levels of protection like additional passwords, firewalls, encryption, etc. You will need to limit access to hardware devices, too. In some cases, data breaches can be caused by physical hardware being stolen. If your laptops, PCs, or other digital devices are easy to steal, this is a red flag. Though security cameras can help in this regard, it is better to lock down these devices physically.
4. Invest in data security technology
Cybersecurity software, data loss prevention tools, network security, there are several technologies that a small business can incorporate to minimize the chances of data breaches. Based on your business and type of data, you can decide which technology is the right option for your business. You can choose a tool considering its both proactive and reactive response features. Additionally, you can ensure data protection by investing in employee monitoring tools like Xnspy. Such tools help in ensuring data privacy against internal data breaches. It is important to note here that recent research shows that 27% of the data theft attacks were from the employees of the organizations.
5. Don’t underestimate the threat
As discussed earlier, mostly small business owners believe that hackers target large enterprises. However, the real picture is different, there have been cases where small businesses have lost millions of dollars to cybercriminals. You need to work with IT professionals to layout a security plan as it is better to prepare for the worst. Having a backup in the place is of the utmost importance.
At this point in technological advancement and adoption, data breaches are nearly inevitable. Small businesses must start planning for a breach. After all, the best defense is a good offense. All you need to do is: prepare a security plan, enlist your employees, monitor, and update your security system.