Criminals are always there, waiting for a chance to pounce on your company’s data. From tax preparers to small online shops, no business owner is 100 percent breach-proof. However, there are ways to reduce the financial impact on your business while keeping your customers safe from a future privacy intrusion. Keep reading for tips.

Understand the cost

It is first important to know how much a data breach might cost your company in the long-term. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that there is not a financial impact, even if no money was involved. According to PC Magazine, each record stolen costs the business owner approximately $148. If your customer database contains information on 100 different people, that’s almost $1,500, which is no small sum for a small business.

Identify weaknesses

When your company experiences a privacy intrusion, you’ll have to figure out how the information became vulnerable in the first place. Often, data breaches occur because of criminal or malicious attacks. However, more than one-third of the time, human error is to blame. Less commonly, a faulty system allows information to be leaked online.

Contact a professional for cleanup

There are many ways a data breach or data loss might be noticed. CSO Online explains that half the time, an employee of the company will notice an issue. However, law enforcement — or even your customers or service providers — may also be the first to raise the red flag.

Regardless of who catches the data discrepancy, your company’s reputation and bottom line are at risk. Unless you’re an information technology and cybersecurity expert, your best bet is to contact data recovery experts, such as Secure Data Recovery, to help you recover any important information that may have been lost or compromised in some way. In addition to a data recovery squad, you may also need to contact your accountant, customers, and local law enforcement and let them know about the incident.

Patch the holes

Once you know where your business is most exposed, you can start making changes in operations to prevent future attacks. If your employee records or financial transactions were accessed via a broken or misconfigured access control (essentially a private link made public), your IT department may need to pull your website off-line and fully evaluate its security.

Employee training is another vital response. Your company will have a better chance of avoiding future incidents if your employees are trained to identify potential weaknesses. Phishing schemes, for example, are often the result of a fraudulent email. This email contains a malicious link that is clicked on by an unsuspecting employee, believing that the correspondence came from someone within the organization.

Pay for protection

Even if you’re a small business, it pays to build technology into your budget that will help reduce issues in the future. Antivirus software is not enough. Consider creating a security audit schedule, preferably using an outside agency to evaluate your processes. You should also spend money on back-end features such as security certificates, encryption, firewalls, and secure media backup. Talk to your accountant, financial advisor, or management team to find out ways your business can save in other areas so that you can channel more money into protecting your confidential information.

Your company’s reputation is an asset that you cannot afford to lose. How you respond to a sensitive situation, such as the data breach, will define whether this asset becomes a liability. It is going to cost money, and you may need to juggle your finances. However, investing in digital forensics, employee training, and other tools to help prevent a future instance is one way you can show your customers that you are ready to respond to any threats against them.

About the Author

Lindsey Weiss

What to do when hackers threaten you (and your company's bottom line)