Are You Protected From a Data Breach?

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Are You Protected From a Data Breach?

databreachThe term, data breach, has become a part of our national lexicon in recent years. With cybercrime on the rise, the potential for personal data exposure has grown significantly. Few of us are willing to live off the grid and give up our digital conveniences to avoid a data breach completely. However, with a solid data breach protection plan, you won’t have to.

Here’s what you need to know about safeguarding your personal and business data from exposure.

Recent Data Breaches

Data breaches happen more than most of us realize. While these breaches typically only become a newsworthy topic when they happen to household name companies, rest assured, they hit smaller businesses as well. To better understand what a data breach could mean for the small to medium-sized business owner, let’s take our lessons from the big guys first.

IBM and Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis revealed that the average total cost of a data breach rose from $3.52M in 2014 to $3.79M in 2015. This research was conducted with 350 participating companies.

The rise in the higher cost of data breaches can be attributed to lost business, increased frequency of cyberattacks and higher costs associated with detection and escalation.

A key takeaway for any business owner and consumer: most data breaches were caused by hackers and criminal insiders. Just this past year, the health care company, Anthem, fell victim to a cyberattack, which affected 80 million patients and employees. Compromised data included names, Social Security numbers, income data and more.

A year prior, 145 million customer accounts with EBay were affected by a cyberattack. This data breach resulted in an estimated $200M loss. Who can forget the 2013 Target data breach? It cost the retail giant $252M and affected 40M credit and debit card accounts.

Of course, these companies have access to financial advisors, lawyers and insurance plans that the average small business owner and consumer do not. While these organizations were largely able to bounce back from cyberattacks, the risk of financial ruin is too large to ignore.

How to Protect Yourself as a Consumer or Business Owner

Here’s the hard truth—cyber criminals and hackers aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they seem to be only becoming more sophisticated and undetectable. The key is to be proactive and consistent. Instead of treating data breach protection as a nice-to-have, move it up to priority status as a must-have.

The tips below are written with the average consumer and business owner in mind:

  • Before opening a business account or taking out a credit card with a financial institution, do a thorough search to see if they’ve had data breaches in the past.
  • Monitor your accounts daily and be sure to do so extra carefully if one account has been recently compromised. Hackers don’t always make charges right away.
  • Be prudent with whom you choose to share medical records as detecting medical fraud is often more challenging.
  • Always contact financial providers to cancel cards if you notice an unauthorized charge. (No matter how small!)
  • Use malware detection software and firewalls to protect your online information.
  • For extra security, sign up for reputable bill-monitoring services.
  • Use background checks on any employees who work with customer data.
  • As business owners, store data in an encrypted database.
  • Develop a disaster plan and disaster recovery plan for worst-case scenarios.
  • Change passwords on a regular basis.
  • Shred personal and financial documents. Not sure you should shred something? Better safe than sorry.
  • Never repeat your main email password with other accounts.
  • Be vigilant of your mail and monitor accounts extra closely if you start receiving mail from unknown senders.
  • Never use shared Wi-Fi to bank online, send sensitive information or shop. Advise your employees to follow the same policy.
  • Set up a work policy regarding the use of personal electronic devices at work.

Planning for data breach protection can be an overwhelming process. Once you develop a strategy, you’ll learn of new and more complex cybercrime trends. However, a simple truth remains: data breach protection is necessary.

Remove stress from the equation and get expert consulting regarding online security. Instead on launching your protection plan in the dark and hoping for the best, develop a risk management solution with the professionals.

Prudential Associates, Inc., offers total solution risk management for a comprehensive, in-depth approach. Safeguard what you’ve worked so hard to achieve by contacting our team of security experts today.