Why Data Protection for Small & Medium Sized Businesses is Crucial for Success

Today, data breaches are so common that they feel like an everyday phenomenon. But while major cyber-attacks involving Target, Marriott, and Checkers Restaurants have hit headlines as of late, small businesses are just as likely to be hacked. And, unfortunately, they’re less likely to recover.

The risks are considerable, and yet, few small businesses take the necessary steps to secure not only their data but also that of their valued customers. The 2018 Hiscox Small Business Cyber Risk Report reveals that just 52 percent of small businesses possess a clear strategy surrounding cybersecurity. This issue is more urgent than most business owners suspect.

Below, we explain why it is so critical that small businesses make an effort to safeguard vulnerable data.

Breach of Trust

It takes small businesses ages to build the rapport and trust needed to secure repeat customers. And all of that can be torn down almost instantly in the event of a data breach. Many businesses attempt to repair the damage by offering impacted customers free security monitoring or other services – but such efforts rarely result in fully regained trust. This problem was evident on a broader scale in 2013, when Target suffered lower stock prices and falling sales as a result of its headline-hitting data breach.

Legal Obligation

Beyond moral questions or PR concerns, businesses that fail to protect customers’ data risk compliance issues that could spell legal trouble. This is especially true of businesses that interact regularly with customers in the European Union. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims to grant individuals greater control over their personal data while also simplifying the regulatory environment for businesses that maintain an extensive digital presence. GDPR acknowledges that data breaches can occur through no fault of the targeted business, but also requires that organizations take necessary steps to protect legally collected consumer data.

Enterprises that work exclusively with United States customers are not necessarily free to conduct business as usual. After all, as more companies strive to comply with GDPR, this will become the data privacy standard of care. And even without the loom of GDPR, legal challenges can come into play.

Businesses may also be investigated by government entities, which could charge them with noncompliance. An applicable example of this is the 2017 case involving Fort Myers-based cancer care provider 21st Century Oncology. An investigation conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Service’s Office for Civil Rights revealed significant areas of cybersecurity weakness and negligence. The result? A $2.3 million settlement.

Cybersecurity Services for Small Businesses: Taking the First Step Towards a More Secure Tomorrow

As a small business owner, you may be highly vulnerable to data breaches – but that doesn’t mean you’re destined to suffer an attack. By implementing basic cybersecurity initiatives, you can reduce the risk of future breaches while providing the protection your customers deserve.

Begin by developing a privacy policy, which can easily be created with free generators available online. This step is worth taking – under the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011, the Federal Trade Commission can require companies conducting business online to offer “notice to individuals on collection practices and the purpose of such collection.”

Once you’ve crafted a detailed privacy policy, it’s important to get a sense of how vulnerable your website actually is. A thorough audit can help you determine where your greatest weaknesses lie and how they can be fixed. There are a variety of vulnerability scanning services available to help you determine which risks are worth addressing.

Scanning is only the beginning. Several simple steps can be taken to keep attackers at bay as well. Protocol worth pursuing includes:

  • Installing stronger firewalls
  • Updating your password policy
  • Backing up critical data
  • Enabling two-factor authentication
  • Encrypting emails

It’s impossible to understate the importance of data backup and protection for small businesses. This issue could determine whether you continue to maintain your customers’ trust in a risk-filled environment, or whether you fall victim to yet another data breach. Don’t put your customers or your business at risk; proactive cybersecurity could spell the difference between a promising future and digital devastation.

If you’re ready to shore up your company’s cybersecurity protocol, you can take comfort in knowing that you don’t have to go it alone. An IT consultant can help you create an effective security plan for your business. As a top business IT service company, NerdsToGo makes every effort to help our clients prevent data breaches. Preventative options include firewall installation and repair, remote data monitoring, and data backup services. Contact us today to learn more about our approach to data protection for small businesses.