Over the last several years, the number of large cybersecurity events in the news has grown exponentially. If you take a look at the website Information Is Beautiful, you can see graphically how data breaches have spiraled out of control. In 2009, they reported just ten data breaches. In 2019, there were more than 100 data breaches. Most recently, we've seen huge entities such as Wawa and Marriott experience two of the largest breaches in history.
Hackers aren't just interested in these corporate behemoths. Small and mid-size companies have become the prime targets for data breaches for the simple fact that they have less resources to spend on security measures, and their IT departments are spread thinly dealing with issues in their businesses. Do you ever stop and think what would happen if a hacker breached your business? What kind of damage could they do? The ripple effect can be devastating for a small or mid-size business. With that in mind, here are a few ways that a data breach could severely impact your business.
- Revenue Loss. The largest cost of a data breach is the loss of revenue. Without revenue coming in, small and mid-size businesses are essentially cutting off their oxygen to exist. Insurance company Hiscox reports that the average cost of a security incident is around $200,000. For a small business, that will be a much heavier cost to bear than a multi-million dollar corporation. And for a small business, one security incident and the revenue loss can put them out of business for good.
- Disruption of Operations. When a data breach occurs, the first step companies take is to stop all operations to figure out what needs to happen to move forward. When operations cease, all business comes to a screeching halt. Nobody is answering customer questions, no manufacturing is taking place and product is not leaving the business. The data breach literally holds the business hostage until a plan can be put into place to rectify the situation, and that stop in operations means more revenue loss, dissatisfied customers and overall frustration for employees.
- Reputation Damage. We've all seen or heard the frustrations that come about when a big company is hacked. Trust goes down the drain, and customers begin looking for alternatives for the business they're doing with the breached company. One item that is surely invaluable is a business's good reputation, and a data breach will most certainly harm that reputation.
- Large, Unexpected Costs. So your breached company has lost revenue, had their entire operation shut down for a period of time and had their good name dragged through the mud because of a data breach. If that isn't frustrating enough, there will be large, unexpected costs to deal with in the aftermath. This may include paying damages to affected customers, emergency IT expenses like possibly a ransom to recover your data and the likelihood of higher insurance premiums because of the event All of these costs, as they were not budgeted for, will cause severe hardship for a small to mid-size business.
Reading this may now have you in a bit of a panic, wondering if a data breach could happen to your business. The answer isn't if, but WHEN. To prepare your company before a security issue happens, learn how you can beef up your defenses when it comes to your data.
- Shore up your weaknesses. Hackers are looking for one thing when they initially come upon your business, and that's a way in. As a business, you can be sure to ensure all access points in are secure. This should include all systems, network and maybe most importantly, your employees. Working with a reputable Managed IT Services provider who can provide you with a thorough assessment of your environment will help you find your weaknesses and help you implement a strategy to shut them down quickly.
- Train your employees. A major way to deter a data breach or cyberattack is on the front lines with your employees. Implementing an employee training program that helps your staff spot phishing attacks or other malicious methods hackers use to gain access to your data will pay off in spades. In the same way you train employees to keep the door locked and not let unauthorized people into your buildings, by training your employees about social engineering and phishing will keep your virtual doors locked as well.
- Use your resources wisely. Running out and hiring an IT expert to protect your business against a cyber attack is likely not an option for most small businesses. But working with a reputable Managed IT Services provider to implement measures is cost that most small businesses can incur. A Managed IT Services provider will work with you to create a plan that meets your needs at a level your budget can handle.
Being equipped to handle a data breach is a huge step in dealing with the impacts it can cause your business. Fraser's Managed IT Services group can provide you with a thorough assessment of your environment and provide you with a plan to keep you safe.