Think Target 2013. By the time the company discovered what had happened, over 100 million customers’ debit and credit card information was at risk of theft. While financial information is certainly one of the scarier forms of data breach out there, it is not the only form. Anything a company records, a hacker can find. The truth is: no information is 100% secure, except for what someone keeps completely to themselves.
This is not meant to make you paranoid. There are some valuable lessons to be learned from data breach, and precautions to be taken against it. First of all, no business is immune. Not even small business. In fact, small businesses usually have fewer security resources, making them better prey for hackers. Another thing to remember is that hackers are more interested in identity theft than ever before. It will usually be the customers who need the most protection, but keep in mind that the hacking itself is probably the result of a determined identity thief.
Thankfully, there are many effective ways to guard against data breaches. The U.S. has already implemented new microchip enabling technologies for credit cards. Companies should consider upping their credit policies. It will definitely make a difference. Another thing: encryption is of utmost importance. Beyond that, business owners should consult an expert, improve their existing security plan or create a new one, and increase their employee training and periodic assessments.
Furthermore, plans should include some kind of data minimization process. In other words, only hold on to prevalent information. Chuck everything else out the window (not literally – everything must be disposed of properly). Avoid unfamiliar or viral downloads and repeatedly back up crucial data.