The Real Cost of a Data Breach

Hackers see small businesses as an opportunity to gain quick access to unsecured data.

ESET Guest Blogger

December 13, 2019

3 Min Read
Businessman with dollar sign on blurred background.
Getty Images

Many small-business owners find it hard to prioritize cybersecurity measures, in part because they have many concerns vying for a place in the budget. It may also be because they don’t understand the real cost of a data breach, or because they believe that hackers won’t bother with a small business because there’s so much more to gain by attacking a bigger enterprise.

The reality is that hackers see small businesses as an opportunity to gain quick access to unsecured data. While an attack on a big organization might take a lot of planning and time, hackers can get a few quick hits by identifying small businesses without a cybersecurity plan in place. Consider the real cost of a data breach:

Financial impact: The average cost of a small-business data breach in 2017 was $690,000, according to Ponemon’s 2017 Cost of Data Breach study. Most small businesses don’t have that type of cash available for an emergency, so it can be difficult for the company to survive such an attack. Not all breaches are equal; there can be a wide range in the number of individuals affected, the type of data compromised and the ways in which the company responds to the attack.

Credit damage: There’s a lot of buzz around protecting your consumer credit score, but many business owners aren’t overly familiar with the role their business credit plays. If you tap into a line of credit to handle payroll or inventory, you’ll need to consider how a breach could impact your ability to conduct business.

Reputation: Even if you can weather the financial and credit aspects of a breach, it may take a long time for your reputation to recover. This is especially true if personal information, such as Social Security numbers, are stolen in a breach. Building customer loyalty following an attack can be one of the more challenging aspects of cybersecurity.

Fortunately, once you’ve gotten a picture of the real cost of a data breach, you can implement a few steps to be better prepared for an attack:

  1. Secure vulnerable touch points:Have a plan in place for securing and mitigating a threat in common touch points, and have security protocols in place for end consumers that use your company’s web applications.

  2. Protect customer data:Many security breaches occur due to user errors that send customer data to the wrong recipient, or because personal information is not being adequately protected. Have a plan in place for knowing where personal data resides in your system, and make sure you have adequate IT support to address threats and keep up-to-date on securing the data.

  3. Train employees:One of the more common ways hackers gain access to a small business is through phishing emails. Teach employees how to recognize the traits of a phishing email, such as urgent language or an email that comes unexpectedly from a third party. Have a repeatable and, if possible, automated process for dealing with suspicious emails.

If you have questions about the real cost of a data breach, or if you are interested in leveraging the best cyber security tools for protecting small businesses, contact us today.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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