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Data Breach Consequences for your Business

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The Information Age has its bounties and its pitfalls. More and more, we see the problem of data theft looming on the horizon. Every week the news tells us about one more cyberattack, one more online scam, and yet another careless leak due to some software vulnerability or social engineering scheme.

Data breaches can devastate a growing company. Here are some of the main risks Veteran Business Owners should plan for after a breach:

  • Expense  

First off, a data breach costs money in several different ways. The direct theft of information itself can unduly burden your business. Indirect expenses multiply that weight.

Thieves might steal your information, your client’s information, or that of your partners or contractors. The thief may even be a competitor out for confidential trade secrets. Further, think about the expensive process of catching the thief, fixing the breach, and paying your employees in the meantime. Finally, corporate victims of data breaches lose a lot of business in the meantime, while trying to catch the thief and plug the leak.

Poor security can wreck a company. Whoever the vandals are, they can get a business from the inside out. In the past, a sneaky worker might have simply lifted a piece of paper. These days, the Internet has exposed us to a world of shady characters waiting to ambush us at any minute.

  • A data breach can harm your credibility

Larger companies can attract media attention after a security breach. Ethically, smaller companies must promptly explain to customers, employees, and partners about the compromised data. If they don’t, the victim will learn about it later. Clients can feel violated, contractors may look elsewhere, and partners may lose their trust in you. You may even lose employees’ respect.

The best way to preserve your credibility is to follow best practices, to begin with. However, even the best efforts can fail against the smartest hackers. The battle may seem like a pain but fortifying your business against online thieves is necessary to secure your reputation as a trustworthy business.

  • Data breaches take a lot of time to repair 

Say goodbye to your free time after someone hacks you. In virtually every case, a data breach needs to be fixed. There are no minor breaches. Even with, for example, disclosure of a patient’s medical records, at the very least, you’ll have to jump through legal hoops to maintain the integrity of the business. The worst-case scenario would be the use of that information to steal the person’s identity. 

In the case of a larger breach, only extensive repairs can plug the leak. The information that’s already escaped will take on a life of its own and do its own damage in the meantime. Time will be of the essence, and the longer you wait, the more extensive the damage. The more clients need to be contacted, the more contractors need to be warned, and the more employees need to be informed and even questioned. Time is money, and data breaches steal a lot of it.

  • Data breaches can land you in trouble with the law.

Poor handling of data can lead to regulatory action as well as lawsuits. The litigants might be as varied as angry customers, the SEC, or even the FTC. Problems with the court system have their own expenses, both financial and emotional. Business owners due care to avoid such a catastrophe.

Conclusion

These days, widespread dependence on the online world has multiplied the risk of intrusions into a business’s private space. Some of the good-old-fashioned preventative measures still matter. Employees should be vetted and properly trained. Online security measures are the most significant development, and require a great deal of preparation, but can prevent incredible heartache. A careful understanding of both is de rigueur these days for a successful company. 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that part one of this two-part mini-series has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.   Stay tuned for the next article. We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here: https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

Small Business Cyber Security Basics

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Our world relies heavily on technology and the Internet. Criminals target companies of all sizes, including small businesses. Knowing a few security basics can help you protect your business and even reduce the risk of your business falling victim to a cyber criminal’s attacks.

 

Below are six key areas to focus on to help make your business more secure:

 

1.) Require strong passwords on everything

Strong passwords are at least 12 characters long and are a mix of numbers, symbols, and capital and lowercase letters. Use strong passwords for all laptops, tablets, computers, and smartphones owned or used by your company and your employees. Make sure that no one leaves any of these devices unattended in public places. Never reuse old passwords and never share passwords in texts or by email. Make sure that you also limit the number of unsuccessful log-in attempts to limit password-guessing attacks.

 

2.) Use multi-factor authentication

Require multi-factor authentication to access areas of your network with sensitive information. This requires additional steps beyond logging in with a password such as a temporary code on a smartphone or a key that’s inserted into a computer.

 

3.) Secure your router

Make sure that you change the default name and password that comes pre-installed on your router. Make sure that you also turn off remote management and log out as the administrator once the router is set up. Make sure your router offers WPA2 or WPA3 encryption, and that it’s turned on. Encryption protects information sent over your network so it can’t be read by outsiders. If you do not know how to do this we recommend getting in touch with a reputable tech company to take care of this for you.

 

4.) Keep all software up to date

Make sure that all of your devices are setup to automatically update when an update becomes available. This includes any apps, programs, web browsers, hardware, and operating systems.

 

5.) Secure all of your files

Backup all important files offline – either on an external hard drive or in the cloud. Make sure that the offline backup is secured with a strong password. Make sure you store all of your sensitive paper files securely. Also, make sure that you encrypt the data on devices and other media that contain sensitive personal information. This includes laptops, tablets, smartphones, removable drives, backup tapes, and storage solutions.

 

6.) Train your staff

Create a culture in your company of security by implementing a regular schedule of employee training and make sure that you keep your employees updated as you find out about new risks and vulnerabilities.

 

 

Most importantly, make sure that you have a plan in place just in case you do experience a breach. You will need to get backups online quickly so you can get back to work as well as notify any customers who may also be impacted. The FTC’s Data Breach Response: A Guide for Business gives you steps that you can take.

 

Again, cyber security is increasingly important in our world. If you are uncomfortable or lack the knowledge to implement security at your company we highly recommend hiring a professional technology company to keep your information secure.

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