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Cyberattacks Continue to Increase - Are You Protected? Six Tips to Prevent a Data Breach.

Posted on in VGM News, Service Solutions

By: Mike McGill, VGM Marketing

In today’s environment of data-driven business solutions, it has never been more important for small-business owners to invest in data-breach protection.

Hackers do not discriminate when selecting who will become their next victim. Even though the news media reports on the Fortune 500 companies that have been infiltrated, such as Target, Sony, The Home Depot, EBay and even the office of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the underlying reality is that all industries are vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Any business that collects or stores sensitive personal information – electronically or in paper files – is at risk for a data breach. According to the 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 31 percent of all data breaches investigated in 2012 occurred in organizations with fewer than 100 employees.

Breaches such as the malware attack on Target’s 40 million customers resulted in a 46 percent drop in profit. Retail giants like Target can endure and eventually overcome such a significant loss, but for small, independently-owned businesses, a data breach can result in closing their doors.

“A cyberbreach can easily put a small company out of business,” said Bill Wilson of VGM Insurance Services. “In fact, 60 percent of small businesses will close within six months of a cybersecurity attack.”

According to Wilson, companies that do not take a proactive approach to protecting their customers’ data are putting themselves at grave risk. He suggests these six tips to help your business prepare for a breach:

1. Cover the Basics

According to the Small- to Medium-size Business Threat Awareness Poll, 67 percent of small- to medium-size businesses do not use web-based security, and 61 percent do not use antivirus on all computers. Diagnose which of your computers have installed and updated security software. 

2. Identify Assets

Know what client information you have on hand, from credit card information to personal health information. It is also important to take an inventory of your physical assets as well as your digital assets. You should know where all of your devices are at all times in case a laptop or phone is stolen.

3. Develop a Response Plan

Should a breach happen, you must know the proper steps to research the breach, mitigate the impact of the breach, communicate the breach and comply with state and federal statutes.

4. Protect your Network

Technology is an intimidating and complicated business tool. Work with a network security and compliance company, like VGM’s Border Patrol, to protect your network and ensure compliance.

5. Develop or Revisit Employee Cybersecurity Policies

Employees often pose the greatest risk for an organization through honest mistakes or human error. Employees must be trained to identify potential cyberrisks from phishing emails to securing devices with customer information (computers, smart phones, tablets, etc.).

6. Purchase Cyber Insurance or Examine your Existing Policy

Cyber liability can cover a business’s liability for a data breach. Data from the FCC shows the average cost of a cyberattack on a small- to medium-size business is $188,242. Companies today can purchase cyber insurance to protect from these potential breaches at competitive rates. 

Unfortunately, it’s not a question of IF your business will suffer a breach, but WHEN. One stolen laptop, one zealous hacker, one virus or even one lost or misplaced document of patient data can create enormous financial and reputational consequences for your business. Take the steps today to prepare and safeguard your business.