As a small business, it’s easy to think that data security is only relevant to larger organisations. After all, it’s the corporate giants that hit the headlines, such as the theft of more than 100 million payment card PINs of the customers of US company Target. The American retailer is one of many big firms to be become a recent victim of cyber thieves, after Sony and Adobe, among others.
But why should smaller businesses be concerned? First, they tend to lack the robust defences of their larger counterparts, making them more vulnerable to security breaches. Second, the Information Security Breaches Survey 2014 found that 60% of small business had suffered a cyber-attack in the previous 12 months, while 10% of all organisations breached were so badly damaged they had to change the nature of their business. Furthermore, the average cost to a small business of its worst security breach was £65,000 to £115,000, almost double the previous year. The European Union is also aiming to bring in tighter rules on data security from 2015, and could levy hefty fines on those businesses that don’t comply.
But looking after your data goes beyond the direct impact on your business. An October 2013 study by Raytheon reported 70% of young adults (18 to 26 years old) had a high concern for their personal information being collected or used in ways they were not aware. This is a growing fear among individuals, and businesses owe it to their current and future customers to protect their personal details. In fact, actively taking steps to do so could boost loyalty.
The growing fear over data security has given rise to Data Privacy Day, which takes place annually on 28 January. It provides an opportunity for you to focus your business on the importance of data security and creates a useful deadline to aim for to get protection in place. The global cyber security awareness campaign STOP. THINK. CONNECT. recently came up with a check list to help businesses and their staff make a start on tightening up their data security. It recommends the following:
1. Keep a clean machine
Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defences against viruses, malware and other online threats.
2. Secure your accounts
Create long, strong and unique passwords and enable multi-factor authentication for online accounts.
3. Own your online presence
Set privacy and security settings on websites and social networks to facilitate the level of sharing you feel comfortable with.
Check your wifi and Bluetooth settings to be sure you connect manually to networks you trust. Automatically connecting to wifi can leave you vulnerable to hackers and others.
5. Think before you app
The UK government has also drawn up 10 steps to cyber security, which it claims will help companies stop up to 80% of cyber attacks.