Think cyber attacks only hit large corporations? Think again. In this day and age of information gathering, online data breaches are all too common — whether you own a large or small business. 2015 was plagued with news about consumers getting their identity stolen from companies such as Home Depot, Target and Sony Pictures.
According to information compiled by the nonprofit consumer advocacy Identity Theft Resource Center, as of November 19th of last year, there had been 679 major data breaches reported — up about 25 percent over the same time in 2013. What happens if the breach hits home? And is your business ready?
4 Minimum Security Measures For Your Business
From a business standpoint, here are the minimum security measures you should have in place:
- Hire a professional IT vendor. The fact is, times are changing and these “computer guys” just don’t know enough about security, and are probably learning themselves. You have to hire a firm that knows about proper procedure and threat assessment. Don’t just pay when things break. Make sure your IT infrastructure is patched and kept up to date, audited and tested for security holes monthly. The businesses that don’t do this and go the inexpensive route are what we like to call easy targets.
- Follow your industry compliance and rules to the letter. The old rules used to be, “Just look like you are making an effort and you’ll be fine.” The Home Depot breach is showing us this is not the case with a number of vendors named in ongoing lawsuits and all of them at risk for a part of those expenses related to a breach.
- Purchase data-breach insurance. A few years ago you couldn’t even buy such a thing. By 2020, research by insurance groups indicate almost 90 percent of all businesses will be required to have it. It is well worth the investment. Even if you’re not the cause of a breach, you may have to defend your actions in court. Many of these policies cover such a defense.
- Stop deploying one-time equipment. At one time, it was smart in business to buy a big technology purchase and write it off over a number of years. A standalone device purchased only a year ago that hasn’t been updated or monitored may already be breached and you wouldn’t even know it. Do your research, but technologies such as SimpleWan are cloud-based and allow a business carrier to locate, monitor, manage and quantify broadband Internet connections.
5 Minimum Security Measures For Your Personal Privacy
How about if you want to protect yourself as a CEO from an everyday standpoint? Approximately 15 million U.S. residents have their identities used fraudulently each year with a financial loss totaling upwards of $50 billion. Statistics for crimes go up over the holidays. This is what I would recommend to ensure your privacy is secure:
- Check your bank account online daily. New tools such as Apple Pay will notify your phone in real time for any transaction your credit card is used.
- Know your retailers. In most cases, larger retailers have data-breach insurance and tools to help consumers in a breach. If you shop with smaller retailers, you may want to ask if they have data-breach insurance and some kind of “monitoring” technology to notify them about unusual activity.
- Subscribe to a credit monitoring service. These services will notify you if there is any unusual information on your credit or bank accounts.
- Be on alert for credit card duplicators. If you see something odd at the credit card terminal, notify an employee right away. You may just save everyone from having their information copied.
- Avoid giving more information than you have to. Most modern merchants ask you for your email or address. The merchants store this information and associate it with your credit card number. If the merchant were to be hacked or have a data breach like ones we’ve seen this year, they not only have your credit card, but they have your full contact information. With your email, they have the ability to use it to “phish” information from your computer, exploiting consumers even further.
A version of this article was originally posted on The CEO Magazine.