The sensitive information of individuals is big business in the criminal world. An individual’s medical record can collect up to $50 on the black market, 50x that of a credit card record, and that’s before money has been elicited by using the record itself. Data breaches aren’t just confined to medical and financial though, in the modern world we are seeing trade secrets, intellectual property and other identification information being viewed or stolen by unauthorized individuals. Data breaches can dramatically affect your life, both as an individual citizen, but also as an employee or business owner. Fortunately though, there are ways to protect yourself.
Getting down to business
From a business perspective, data breach can be hugely damaging, to a company’s reputation as a whole as well as the consequences of what that data breach will bring. Particularly for companies that trade in knowledge sectors, data breaches can have hugely impactful and long-lasting effects if intellectual property or trade secrets are obtained by an unauthorized source. Companies have seen their long-term earning capacity significantly reduced, or even wiped out, from data breaches.
While the media generally highlights data breaches that happen on a mass scale to large and well-known brands, it is small to medium enterprises that can be hit hugely as their technology and processes are often not strong enough. Some studies suggest that almost 30% of SMEs have no plans in place to deal with security threats.
How to turn things around
A data breach response plan is crucial to maintaining the safety of your business. Sometimes it’s helpful to think about the digital risk of a data breach in the same way as a physical risk to your company, such as fire or theft. No company would operate without basic policies around high-risk areas, and data breach should be considered in this group.
A good data loss protection plan and state-of-the-art security will equip your company with the right tools and software to protect against ransomware, and inadvertent loss of data. But a truly great data loss protection plan is one that pre-empts the catastrophe by ensuring that all employees understand the level of risk associated with a data breach and are committed to putting in place best data loss protection practice in order to minimize the risk.
On an individual level
Whether you’re a business that holds sensitive information regarding individuals, or from an individual perspective, it is important to know the risks associated with having your personal data compromised. Of course, the consequences of stolen financial and medical records are fairly evident, but with the rise of sophisticated ransomware and malware techniques, criminals can embed themselves on your computer and commit serious crimes identity theft that you may not even be covered by in your insurance.
What to do about it
Firstly, look into how you’re currently protected on an insurance and a digital level and make the appropriate changes. Contact your bank and talk about options to protect your credit card online and fully understand their policies if your details are compromised. Shop around – protection isn’t standardized and different financial companies will offer different types of protection. That goes for your medical insurance also, contact your provider and get a clear understanding of what will happen if there is some kind of breach.
Then it’s time to look into your cybersecurity. Cyber criminals have gone from strength to strength in recent years so it is imperative to update your security and ensure the settings don’t ever have it sitting in an idle state. It’s also an excellent idea to look into password storage facilities like LastPass that enable you to have a different password on websites, particularly those you are sharing sensitive information with. Opt for a two-step verification process on any website that has it and use different security questions on different websites, where they are offered.
Data breach can have far-reaching and long-lasting effects on both individuals and companies. Put simply, the only way to combat this kind of criminal activity, as a citizen and as an SME or SMB, is through protection. For businesses, this involves a strategic data loss protection plan, as well as a crisis management plan if the worst happens and sensitive information, particularly that of individuals, gets into the wrong hands. For both businesses and individuals, computer security and prevention techniques when it comes to websites where your data could be compromised, are essential to mitigating the life-changing risk of a data breach.