As more and more businesses conduct their transactions and upload valuable data online, data breaches have become more common. Almost in a matter of minutes, hackers can infiltrate your company’s network and access your confidential records.
How can a data breach impact your business?
1. Your company’s reputation will be damaged.
If cyber hackers steal your top-secret data, your company’s name will be affected negatively. The brand you’ve painstakingly built over the years can get questioned and scrutinized by your clients. How did the breach happen? Are your security measures in place? How can clients entrust you with their personal data?
News spreads very quickly over the Internet. In the past, bad publicity about a company was very easy to contain and address. Nowadays, news about a data breach in your business can be easily accessed by your consumers and your competition. Even if the data breach is definitely something you did not intend to happen, it can threaten your company’s reputation, and it will take time (and money) to help you recover.
2. Your business’ competitive edge over others will be weak.
Cyber hackers target to acquire your proprietary data, which contains your client database, costings, as well as trade secrets. Cybercriminals can give all your important information to your competition. Confidentiality protects your advantage over other brands. A data breach puts you at a great disadvantage.
3. Your business can lose money.
The moment you find out your company’s data has been hacked, the first thing you need to do is to temporarily stop all operations until you solve the problem. This will naturally involve financial losses. The sooner you discover how the cyber breach happened and how you can prevent it from happening again, the sooner you can resume business.
You incur costs as well when you roll out a plan to update your clients about it, and you need to pay for customer service and compensations for damages. Indirect costs may come in the form of legal expenses to address lawsuits and claims.
Even a seemingly minor data breach can have the worst consequences. According to cybersecurity experts, the probability of this happening to any company is high. The call to action is really prevention. How do you stop a data breach from damaging your business?
1. Engage the services of a cybersecurity specialist.
Don’t even wait for a data breach to happen. Part of setting up and organizing your team is working with a cybersecurity specialist. They can greatly help you to educate yourself and your employees about the best practices to safeguard your company at all times. Ask the specialist for his recommendations on the measures you should put in place to keep data protected in each of your departments.
One common recommendation that cybersecurity experts give is for companies to invest in VPN services. A Virtual Private Network is an amenity that allows users to transact on the Internet safely and privately by letting your connection pass through a server first. The VPN server protects your online actions from being tracked or seen by others. It’s an extra security measure between you and the Internet.
Depending on where your business operates, you can search for options on trusted VPN servers your company can use. If you’re based in Australia, you may check on VPN in Australia for the best servers available.
2. Craft a comprehensive contingency plan.
Be proactive. Part of your action plan is to have a procedure on what to do if a data breach were indeed to occur. Consider these questions when creating your plan:
- What concrete steps will your company immediately take if a breach happens?
- Whom will you notify first? How will you give the information regarding the breach?
- How will you maintain transparency with your clients and consumers?
- Who will communicate with the media?
- How will you minimize your losses?
- How will you secure your confidential data?
Without having to wait for a problem to happen, you should have a plan on how you can effectively deal and assure your business partners, employees, and clients. Also, plan on how you can concretely rebuild and strengthen your company’s image and reputation after a data breach.
3. Bring your employees on board in protecting the company’s data.
Empower your employees. You can all work together to keep the whole business safe from data breaches. Organize seminars that will teach all the members of your team. Sometimes, breaches can come in the form of a seemingly innocuous email. Here are some tips you can do with your team:
- Make everyone aware of how breaches can happen and how they can do their part of working safely and prudently online.
- Teach your employees how to encrypt their data, create stronger passwords, how to correctly file and save data, as well as how to avoid malware.
- Ask your team to maintain an entirely separate business and personal email accounts. In this way, if a hacker were to access their personal email or bank account, it will not affect any company data.
- Offer additional IT training, even for those who don’t directly work in your IT department. In this day and age, many people are open to learning new things and adding to their skillset. You can check here on getting started in the IT courses. The more tech-savvy your employees are, the better you can protect your company online.
4. Run vulnerability assessments regularly.
Part of preventing data breaches is to conduct checks on your systems periodically. Many businesses don’t see the urgency and run these assessments only three to four times a year. If you want to assure your company’s security, do weekly checks. Run vulnerability scans in all the internal and external systems of your network.
In your external system, all types of users have access to the information. Check on your online system for accepting data, orders, and payments from your clients, as well as your system for communicating with them.
All of your office’s internal communications belong to your internal system. This is more commonly called your company’s intranet. Run scans through your employees’ email accounts and computer files, and inform them about these system checks. Doing regular and complete scans will secure your internal system.
Data breaches are a company’s worst nightmare — don’t let it happen to you. Equip yourself with the latest information and programs to secure your business.