Ways To Protect Your Business from A Data Breach
By Grant Gibson, Executive Vice President, CIBR Ready
The average data security breach takes less time to pull off than it does to prepare a cup of coffee.
While the main focus of any organization who experiences a hack is solving the issue quickly and addressing their employees, it turns out there are a number of long-lasting effects that can cause potential damage to your business. These may include a hit to company reputation, revenue loss, data loss, and disruptions in operations.
As the risk of cyber security attacks and data breaches increases each year – as highlighted by recent news headlines – it is imperative to learn about the possible long-term impacts they can have on your business and how to prevent them.
Loss of property
When a data breach occurs the hacker can gain access to company-sensitive files that may include financial information, personal details, or confidential documents such as contracts. Many times, they will steal the files and the business will lose the fundamental information they need to run smoothly. If a backup does not exist, it can take months, or even years, to rebuild the documents.
In addition to stealing information there have been many accounts of hackers tricking employees into transferring company funds.
Halt of operations
Data breaches are almost always unexpected and cause a disruption in operations if a mitigation plan was not arranged beforehand. Work may not be able to resume as normal without the critical data that was stolen. Since it can take some time to recover or rebuild data, the business may have to pause working conditions until it is resolved.
Hit to company reputation
Nothing truly disappears on the internet. If a business faces a data breach, it may attract negative publicity and decrease the trust customers have in the company. In the long term this might impact potential new business opportunities, talent recruitment and overall dependency. This is why it’s so important to do everything possible to prevent a breach in the first place, but if you do suffer a breach, transparency is key. Inform your customers immediately of the breach. Once you know exactly what data was compromised, share this information as well. Rebuilding a company’s reputation after an incident like this can take a great deal of time and patience.
Loss of business and revenue
Reputational damage could also lead to a loss of customers and, in turn, a decrease in sales. With customers having less trust in the company, you will likely lose business and as a result, lose revenue. The business will also lose revenue by having the extra expense of remedying the data breach. Add to this the potential legal fees and compensation to customers and you can see the detrimental long-term effects a data breach can have on your business. So how can businesses prevent these risks in the first place?
Not everyone is aware of cybersecurity safety tips, so it is critical to ensure everyone is on the same page with best practices within the company. In fact, according to a study by IBM, 95% of cyber attacks are caused by human error. Host a brief, refresher lesson every so often to make sure employees remember the safety tips and use them in their everyday tasks.
Encrypt data and update software regularly
Data encryption is when data is translated to a unique code or language that requires a key to understand it. A password can also be used with data encryption. Even when a data breach occurs, the hackers will not be able to understand the data without the key. Your company can decide who has access to the key, which reduces the risk of hackers gaining the key and increases accountability when/if something goes wrong.
Updating your software regularly will also ensure that you have the best and most reliable systems. Using older software makes your equipment vulnerable to these attacks. There are also programs that check your software to make sure everything stays up to date.
Create an emergency plan
Having an actionable plan in place for a potential cyber attack ensures all employees know what to do to solve the situation properly and efficiently. Being transparent and informing customers what could happen with their information also helps the customer place trust in your company.
No matter how small or large your business, you should take every step to prevent a data breach, and this includes preparing for the worst. From financial loss to reputation management, the long-term fallout of a data breach can be devastating—especially if you don’t have safeguards and a recovery plan in place. To bounce back from the possible long-term impacts of a data breach, it is important to identify what went wrong and implement policies that prevent this from happening again.
About the Author
Grant Gibson, Executive Vice President, CIBR Ready. He has more than a decade of experience in the cybersecurity industry and is the Chief Information Security Officer at CIBR Ready, a cybersecurity think tank headquartered in the Triangle. Gibson also serves as chair of National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education where he provides a voice of leadership to emerging Cyber technology education standards in the United States. He is a proud veteran of The United States Marine Corps, serving as a critical Communications Chief and pioneering IT instructor. Grant can be reach at https://www.linkedin.com/in/grantgibson1/ and at our company website https://cibrready.com/