If your small or medium-sized business is not internet-dependent, you are in the minority. These days, companies depend on the internet for nearly all aspects of their business, from marketing and sales to managing payroll and connecting remote workers.
Any time a customer or employee enters sensitive information into your system, you have a responsibility to protect that data from outsiders. This is not easy to do, and many businesses have data stolen every year. In fact, a recent survey of U.S. businesses found that 76% of them had experienced a cyberattack in the previous 12 months.
A single data breach can cost a business an average of $146,000 in financial losses and legal damages. This can be devastating to a small or medium-sized business.
If you are being sued because of a data breach or cyberattack, we can represent you to mitigate the damage. However, we recommend assessing your risk and doing what you can to prevent this from happening in the first place.
How to Protect Your Business From Data Breaches
Hackers get more sophisticated every year, and there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of a cyberattack. However, you can take certain steps to beef up your security and significantly reduce your vulnerability. We recommend the following:
- Understand the threat. As a business owner, it’s important that you understand what is considered sensitive information, what cyber attackers want with that information, and how hackers get into your system. If you are not a major corporation or a financial institution, you might think you are not a target. However, if you store personal information about employees or collect credit card payments from customers, you have data that hackers want—and you could be held responsible for compensating those who are harmed by a breach of your system.
- Educating your employees. Your employees should also be aware of the risks. You should ensure that they have strong passwords and know how to identify suspicious activity, such as unsolicited emails and phone calls. It’s also a good idea to provide remote workers with work-only computers so that they are not exposing you to weaknesses in their personal accounts.
- Restrict access to sensitive information. The fewer people with access to sensitive data within your company, the better. Your employees should only have permission to access the information they need to do their jobs. This reduces the risk of a rogue employee stealing information as well as reducing access points for hackers.
- Encrypt sensitive data. Encryption software should be used to secure employee information such as birthdates, Social Security numbers, and addresses, as well as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and client and customer personal information. If you don’t know what encryption is—find out!
- Purchase cybersecurity insurance. You probably already have some kind of insurance in place to protect your business from liability, but does it cover cyber threats? Review your policy and talk to a trusted provider about purchasing coverage. Be aware, however, that these policies often have major exclusions that could leave you vulnerable.
Constant vigilance is vital to protecting the sensitive data your company is storing. Contracting with a third-party cybersecurity company could be well worth it to protect your business.
Are You Liable If You Suffer a Cyberattack?
Companies can be sued for damages by customers and employees whose data was compromised, even when they take steps to protect sensitive data. It may not matter that you were the victim of a crime yourself; if there were weaknesses in your system—or if you failed to warn the affected parties after a breach occurred—you could be the subject of a costly lawsuit. And if you have done nothing to protect sensitive data, you are definitely at risk for a lawsuit.
The statistics tell us that your business will be targeted in a cyberattack at some point if it hasn’t happened already. Discussing your digital vulnerabilities with a cybersecurity expert and your legal weaknesses with an experienced business attorney is the smart thing to do. Contact us to get started today.