Effects of A Data Breach on Small Business

Data Breach Small Business

The information that no business owner or technology director wants to hear: there’s been a data breach. These chilling words can put your brain into overdrive, trying to triage the problem before you even know the full extent of the problem. What will be the impact on customers? On staff? On vendors? Is this simply a temporary bump in the road, or will your business never truly recover? How you’re able to react and your level of preparedness will be the deciding factors in the level of devastation that a data breach can wreak on your business. A recent report from TechBeacon shows that it takes an average of 191 days — over six months — for companies to even identify a breach, much less begin remediation on the road to recovery. Even more frightening, with as many as 7 in 10 of all organizations in the U.S. suffered some sort of data breach over the past several years, with the average breach costing upwards of $3.6 million.

What Are the Immediate Impacts of a Data Breach?

Once you find that your organization has been the target of a cyber attack, your technology team and external vendor partners immediately create a plan of attack. This could include everything from launching an effort to stop the vulnerability that allowed the breach to ensure that your data is restored from external backups as needed. Each of these steps can take time away from your daily operations, while also negatively impacting your overall customer service, manufacturing, eCommerce and staff productivity in general. Plus, there are the additional costs associated with external consultants who are working quickly (and expensively!) to restore your operations and data access. There are also expansive regulatory issues to handle such as technical investigations and regulatory filings about the breach and impact on the public. You can quantify these costs with a little work, but there are some hidden costs that lurk behind the scenes in an extensive data breach. Organizations are reporting thousands of hours required by forensic analysts who are attempting to put together the true nature of the breach.

Loss of Data = Loss of Reputation and Loss of Business

Your customers trust you to be a secure citadel for their sensitive personal, health and financial information. How can you explain to the public that data breaches happen every day? Customers are much less likely to be understanding of your business challenges when they’re personally affected by a data breach. You need to have a plan in place to respond to data breaches urgently, transparently and with empathy, or you could lose a significant amount of business due to lack of consumer confidence in your organization. Finally, you’ll need to put a communication plan in place that includes informing all of your stakeholders about the data breach and how it could affect them. These costs and the time required to get your business back to full operations may make it sound appealing to consider cyber insurance.

Should I Invest in Cyber Insurance?

Just as with other business risks, it makes sense to protect against known threats such as fire, flooding — and cyberattacks. Unfortunately, cyber insurance can be incredibly confusing and there are no guarantees that the expensive investment you make in insurance will cover the specific incidents that could occur at your organization. Even comparing different benefits and offerings can be extremely complex and off-putting for business owners. Instead of buying this questionable insurance, many small to mid-size businesses are instead investing in cybersecurity solutions and comprehensive backup and data recovery strategies.

How Can I Protect My Business From a Cyberattack?

If you don’t have a plan in place to handle data breaches or other cyberattacks, it is never too late to get started! With an average cost per record of $148, according to the 2018 Cost of Data Breach Study, a little prevention against a cyberattack can pay major dividends in the future. Are you confident that your organization has all the safeguards and protective mechanisms in place to maintain adequate security or quickly discover a breach in the event of a cyberattack? A comprehensive cybersecurity solution provides you with a high level of protection that includes:

  • Active monitoring and reporting
  • Vulnerability assessments and remediation
  • Intrusion detection
  • Behavioral monitoring
  • Compliance reporting
  • Agile integration with internal platforms
  • Asset discovery
  • IT and business user training
  • Best practices and process recommendations
  • Extensive backup and disaster recovery planning

When you fail to plan for a cyberattack, you’re essentially planning to fail! In today’s world, it’s rarely a question of if your business will be targeted and more a question of when.

What Are the Benefits of Active Monitoring?

Working with a partner who offers active monitoring of your systems means you have a cybersecurity professional on your side at all times. Someone who is familiar with the footprint left behind by intrusions, and intimately knows the steps required to heal the breach and regain secure control of your systems. Your technology services partner should invest in ongoing education and recommend an aggressive security posture to protect your business. With active monitoring, you may still experience a cyberattack, but you may be able to limit the intrusion to certain systems or records — effectively saving as much of your data as possible through quick action in executing a pre-defined strategy.

As you can see, the effects of a data breach can be far-reaching and extremely expensive. It’s crucial that your business is fully prepared for any eventuality, and that includes an extensive data breach. The faster you’re able to identify the breach and heal it, the better your chances are for long-term business viability. Your technology services partner can provide you with customized recommendations to help protect your business from this pervasive problem.