Information Security

Data breaches & cyber security – here’s what you need to know

Data breaches in 2016

2016 saw cyber security take many of the headlines, with an alarming number of high profile data breaches. Cyber crimes and threats against data are of increasing concern for businesses. But what damage does a data breach actually cause companies? And how can they best be combated?

The initial impacts of data breaches are twofold:

Consumer trust is broken

A data breach is a PR and financial disaster. Unfortunately, businesses usually see the intrusions too late and tend to respond poorly, resulting in customer outrage. Before the age of social media and social engagement, customers would only have spoken about the big disasters. Nowadays, even the smallest hiccup has everyone talking about it pretty quickly. The smallest disruption can have a significant impact on the business’s reputation and can ultimately affect whether people choose to come back to the business in the future.

Reputational damage is a real possibility

The effects on your reputation can go either way, depending on how you deal with it. A breach that’s seen early enough and managed correctly might even have a positive overall outcome for the business. The flip side of the coin is the loss of consumer trust. And, because customers tend to respond with their ‘feet’, it can spell disaster for the business.

How to prevent data breaches

There are many cyber security tools on the market today. However, sometimes simple common sense and a little bit of education will go a long way. Here are a few ideas on how you can prevent your business suffering data breaches.

For starters, look beyond the IT Department

To reduce the threat of cyber crime, security needs to become a company value, rather than just the IT Department’s responsibility. Employee exit strategies, project protocols, data storage practices and the future enforcement of policies and procedures are all safeguards that are simple enough to implement and help protect your business from data breaches.

Educate your employees

Employees should be clued up on how to appropriately handle sensitive information. Employees should also know how critical their buying in of company policies around security is to the operations of the business. It’s also pertinent to provide support to freelancers or mobile employees.

Go minimalist

The less data you store, the less there is for thieves to steal. Don’t collect data that you don’t need and reduce the number of storage facilities. Access to sensitive information should only be granted on a ‘need to know’ basis and data should be purged from storage facilities on a regular basis.

Keep up to date with the most current security software

A business infrastructure that is left protected by an out of date security system, is not protected at all. With hackers producing new malicious content every day, it’s important that your security software is maintained to the highest standards. Simple encryption of data is not enough anymore and only stands as a false sense of security.

To learn more about the impact of data breaches on your business, read our blog post on the subject. Knowledge, in this regard, really is power and enables a business to act quickly and ruthlessly, mitigating the impact. Because it’s no longer a matter of if, but when

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