The term “data system breach” has been dominating the news since the breach that led to the theft of up to 40 million debit and credit cards’ data in December 2013. Target is rebounding from the incident, but this isn’t surprising considering the size of the company.
Unfortunately, smaller businesses can face financial ruin after such a breach, and this makes it essential for them to understand and prevent data breaches at all costs. Luckily, with a little bit of knowledge and a few proactive steps, a business owner can greatly reduce their chances of suffering a breach.
Effects of a Data Breach
There are a variety of consequences that a company will face after a data breach. Probably one of the most damaging is the loss of the public’s trust. Individuals whose information was stolen, and even those who are only aware of the situation, may see the company as untrustworthy when it comes to protecting their personal data. Even if no huge financial loss or damage is caused, a loss of the public’s trust can be the end for a company. This is the last thing a business wants to contend with.
In addition, businesses whose data is breached will often have to pay substantial amounts of money to provide credit monitoring services for all of their customers who were affected. Even bigger than this, though, is the fact that a company may face class action lawsuits after a breach.
These lawsuits can consist of hundreds and even thousands of individual plaintiffs seeking money to cover their damages. All too often, the cost of a security breach is passed down to the customers in the long run.
Preventing a Data Breach
One of the best ways to ensure that a data breach doesn’t occur is to have security systems, such as firewalls and antivirus software packages, in use at the company. Additionally, it is also advisable to only collect the pieces of customer information that are absolutely essential.
If a customer’s birth date, isn’t necessary for a transaction, for instance, then there’s no reason to have it. Eliminating unnecessary customer information conveys to the public that every effort is being made to protect sensitive data.
It also helps to utilize a data center for control and implementation of a data system. These centers provide a level of security that most small business owners couldn’t even hope to afford. Additionally, a business can reduce or expand the storage space they need at any given time. This type of storage expansion would require the purchase of huge and expensive servers to keep onsite for business owners who choose to store their own data.
Handling a Data Breach
National data centers, such as QTS, often have professional response teams that can handle breaches. Fortunately, in the unlikely event of a breach at a data center, the business who hired the data storage center will have effectively avoided at least some liability.
If a company hasn’t taken the initiative of using one of these centers they need to do so in order to immediately contain any breach and perform a preliminary assessment. Shutting down a system is often an effective way to contain a breach, but if this would somehow destroy evidence, it’s imperative to promptly change a data system’s access privileges. We have become accustomed to systems shutting down due to security breaches, rogue hackers, and the like. Ultimately, this trespass cost businesses and customers an exuberant amount of money in more ways than one.
It’s then important to evaluate any risk that exists due to the data breach and quickly notify all parties that may have been affected due to the incident. Though this can be very time consuming, failing to do so can result in much larger damages later down the road. Any company that suffers a data breach then needs to assess exactly what happened and work towards preventing future breaches. Eliminating the treat or breach is a vital part of security.
A data breach can literally be the end of a company, and this applies to big businesses just as much as small ones. These breaches become more common as hackers invent new and innovative ways to access data systems, but even internal breaches can have the same negative effects. This is why utilizing a data center and having a plan of action in place for a breach is essential for all companies.