If you are planning to build a business from the ground up this year, you must make data security a priority. Last year, IBM reported at least $4.24 million in damages resulting from data breaches. This is higher than in 2023 when the cost of damages averaged $3.86 million.
Apart from individual accounts, hackers and online fraudsters are also targeting businesses that acquire personal data from customers. A single breach can expose massive amounts of information, including addresses, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and trade secrets.
Whether you like it or not, your business is vulnerable to cyber threats like phishing scams, social engineering tactics, and brute force attacks. Knowing the dire cost of a data breach to the bottom line and your reputation, you need to double down on your data security and minimize the impact of the latest risks to your business.
The Cost of Poor Cybersecurity Planning
Today’s business landscape emphasizes the need to go cashless. As consumers increasingly rely on payment apps, QR codes, and smart cards to pay for goods and services, your business will need to adopt these payment options for your customers to use.
With the amount of personal and financial data your business processes, you become a prime target for hackers who will find potential weak spots in your security infrastructure. Without a data security plan in place, your business suffers from the following scenarios:
Exposing your business’s best-kept secrets: You wouldn’t want others to find out the secret ingredient to your products and the strategies you are using to get more clients. Poor cybersecurity planning will bring these out into the open and derail your plans before you even have the chance to implement them.
Exposing sensitive data to cybercriminals: Leaking personal information is a serious violation of privacy rights. Your business will be held accountable if it’s proven that it lacks the right tools and methods for staving off a potential threat.
Losing customers: No one likes to deal with an organization that doesn’t do much in protecting sensitive information. Enhancing cybersecurity helps build trust with your customers and keep your reputation intact.
Getting flagged for non-compliance: Businesses are required by international and local laws to implement essential data security standards. Failing to follow these standards will cause you to lose your business credentials, turn away potential customers, and put you in a legal dilemma.
Building a strong data security system can help you steer clear of legal, financial, and reputational problems in the long run. While it can cost hundreds of dollars to protect your business from cyberattacks, the expense will be a fraction of the losses and liabilities you incur in the event of a breach.
To make sure your business is equipped to handle the latest threats to data security, here are a few tips to help you get started:
Do a security audit
Before anything else, you need to know how safe your business is from cyber threats. This will involve assessing the tools and practices you have when it comes to protecting sensitive data. By doing a security audit, you can check how well your business stacks up to today’s cybersecurity standards.
For this, you will need to reach out to a third-party IT consultant who can perform the audit and give you a comprehensive report on what you need to enhance. You will be able to make better decisions and allocate resources for the right security components.
Adopt the right software
During a security audit, you will be able to find out if your PCs and other facilities are protected using the right platforms. If your office has numerous computers on-site, check whether they have up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware programs.
You might also want to invest in platforms with machine learning capabilities. With an AI program manning your cyber defenses, you will be able to detect potential threats and monitor suspicious activity within your network.
Use data privacy-compliant tools
If your business requires customers to share personal information, you will need to make sure you have tools that comply with GDPR, HIPAA, and other international standards on data and privacy protection. If you are looking for payment terminals or an ID scanning app like that from smartengines.com for capturing customer information, select only the platforms that follow regulatory requirements.
Secure your website
If your business operates a website or virtual store, beefing up its defenses is crucial. Since customers are paying through your website, you must have the best platforms that can prevent fraud, encrypt customer data, and impede unauthorized access to customer accounts.
Your website will need an SSL certificate along with a reliable web hosting service. Make sure your website also has a robust verification process so you can weed out users who are out to steal customer data.
Keep your employees updated
Data security doesn’t only fall on your hands. Your employees also have a responsibility to protect software and hardware assets from hackers. Training them in identifying the latest threats and handling online accounts and devices will go a long way in protecting your customers. It’s always best to organize a quarterly seminar that teaches your employees everything, from spotting a malicious email to assigning passwords for work-related accounts.
Monitor your security performance
Enhancing data security doesn’t end with implementing the right tools and strategies. It is a process of continuous refinement. Knowing how fast hackers are moving, you will need to know if your business can stack up to their schemes. With the help of your network administrator, make it a habit to check the effectiveness of your cybersecurity investments.
You will also need to set up key performance indicators so you will know if you are going the right path. For this, consider such metrics as attempts by unauthorized users and your overall preparedness to specific threats like phishing, brute force attacks, and DDoS attacks.
Your business needs to double down on cybersecurity this year. If you want to maintain a good reputation and sustain the bottom line, consider these tips for beefing up your defenses.