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In 2014, tens of millions of personal records were compromised by various data breaches. According to The Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 783 recorded data breaches last year, hitting a record high. But while these breaches were headlined by some of the more high-profile cases of JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, Sony, and Staples, the vast majority of them occur within the small business community, and can cost a small business proportionally much more than the bigger guys. Last year, the average cost of a small retail business data breach exceeded $36,000, and perhaps more worrying, these businesses saw almost a third of their customers leave for good. People often lose trust and confidence in a business that has been hacked or has otherwise mishandled their personal information. This kind of event can also result in lost relationships with key partners and vendors, damage to your brand, and of course, a lot of lost time and stress.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and in an effort to help protect you and your small business, here are some steps you can take:
- Install updated POS systems with (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) EMV “chip and pin” credit cards which prevent hackers from stealing data contained in standard magnetic strips.
- Make sure all data being transferred online is encrypted. This includes any emails or files you may send to customers, vendors, or partners.
- Avoid using Wi-Fi networks to prevent third-party interception of transferred data. If you must use a Wi-Fi, make sure it’s secured with a firewall and a WPA2 encryption.
- Frequently back up your data to an offsite location to avoid a loss in the event of a fire or burglary.
- Use common sense with password management as well as email accounts. Don’t use obvious or simple passwords, and don’t open any links that may appear malicious.
- Shred all outdated or obsolete documents that may still contain sensitive or personal data.
- Make sure you’re up to date on anti-virus software, and stay current by understanding what the latest security threats and protocols are.
- Educate your employees to safeguard their own information, accounts, passwords, and shared data.
To learn more about how The N&D® Group can help protect your small business from a devastating data breach, click here.
“Identity Theft Resource Center Breach Report Hits Record High in 2014.” ID Theft Center. IDT911, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.
“Small Businesses: The Cost of a Data Breach Is Higher Than You Think.” First Data. N.p., 2014. Web. 1 Oct. 2015.
“Stop.Think.Connect. Small Business Resources.” US Department of Homeland Security. US Department of Homeland Security, 2 July 2015. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.