Long gone are the days where businesses kept their data in manual files. Electronic systems of data collection and storage have taken over the business world by storm. This migration has however exposed the data a business has to unauthorized access and manipulation. Large companies from JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot and Yahoo have all been hacked into and huge amounts of data tampered with.
The frequency and severity of data breaches and hacks have increased at alarming rates. It is estimated that around 4000 cyber-attacks happened daily in 2016. These breaches are not unique to the large business. Small businesses are also vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In fact, 43% of all cyber-attacks happen to small business. The burden of cyber-attacks is heavier on small businesses as they do not have the financial muscle to recover from such an attack. According to research, 60% of small businesses failed within a short time of a cyber-attack.
Importance of Securing Data:
Protecting Customer Data
Businesses collect and store a lot of data from their customers. They use this data to improve service provision and therefore increase customer satisfaction. The data collected from customers has to be carefully protected since it may contain sensitive information about the customers. If for example, a business offers home delivery then the company has the customers addresses and phone numbers. In case the company is hacked and such information is accessed the customer’s security is compromised. Therefore, a company should invest in cybersecurity to protect its customer’s information.
Protecting intangible assets
Company is collecting data from all their departments. Manufacturing, sales, human resource, operations, research and development all collect and analyse data. The company’s management then uses this data to make informed decisions. Research shows that 48% of data breaches are motivated by malicious intentions. Therefore, if a company suffers a cyber-attack then this data may be destroyed or used for reasons it was not intended for.
Protecting business reputation
When a business suffers from a cyber breach its customers no longer trust it to keep their information private. This business is far more likely to lose its customers since they no longer trust it to keep their information private. A data breach could lead to loss of customer data which results in the business eventually losing customers since it cripples the sales and marketing departments. The loss is heavily felt if the business provides highly personalized services such as custom-made goods.
According to Cisco Annual Cybersecurity Report of 2017, 22% of organizations that suffered a cybersecurity breach experienced revenue loss with 44% of them experiencing a revenue loss of more than 20%.
To avoid fines
Failure to comply with data protection regulations may cause a business to attract fines. These regulations control how a business deals with customer data. Failure to comply with these laws could lead a business to face legal proceedings.
How to protect your business from cyber breaches:
Encrypt all data
As a company, you should encrypt your data to make it hard for it to be stolen. Cyber-security should be your priority, especially with Internet of Things and BYOD on the rise. Though it is common policy to encrypt outgoing data you should make it a point to encrypt all your data. This ensures if anyone gains unauthorized access to your systems then they do not automatically have access to your data.
The development of biometrics has provided a new way of securing data. This method of protection is more stable since the password does not have to be changed every once in a while. It also removes the need for using complex passwords which are easily forgotten. This is because a person features used for authentication change little even as time passes.
Use several layers of protection
Due to the increased number and severity of cyber-attacks, it has become a necessity to have several layers of protection. A firewall is no longer enough to keep away hackers. The multi-layered protection such as combining biometric authentication with a password or PIN provides added protection. An organization can also incorporate multifactor authentication to increase their systems security.
Finally, while it is important to create a data protection policy, it is also imperative that you create risk mitigation plan. Even the most advanced security systems have loopholes that can be exploited by hackers. This means that a company should always be prepared for a system breach. This should backup the data and a response system that will notify the organisation when a breach is detected to enable the company to react as fast as possible.