As we have learned from the growing number of data breaches, there is very little of our growing digital footprint that isn’t vulnerable to being compromised. Since we don’t know where the next vulnerability is going to materialize, it is incumbent on everyone that we protect ourselves from the inevitable next data breach.
We’ve all heard of services that offer identitfy theft protection services for individuals. While they aren’t marketed as such, these services are really offering data breach protection. Their ability to monitor your identity and scan for identity theft is, in essence, pro-active protection. These services are actively monitoring your data with the goal of identifying a breach and notifying you asap in order to mitigate and remediate the damage.
Subscribing to an identity theft protection service is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. No one knows where or when the next data vulnerability will strike and what the consequences might be. Just as you have health insurance to help you get through the next illness or injury, identity theft protection is your safeguard against a data breach that could cause you serious harm.
Is Your Business Next?
The same holds true for your business. If you’re not protecting your Internet-access material, then you are simply locking the front door on your company’s sensitive data but leaving the windows wide open. Every device your company uses that’s open to the Internet (including employee-owned devices) is vulnerable to a data breach.
According to a recent study conducted by Verizon, hacking and malware account for 72% and 54%, respectively, of data breaches experienced by small businesses. Small to medium-sized businesses are at a disadvantage due to inadequate technology staff resources and reliance on security set up by vendors and other third parties, which can be fatal. Data breaches can wipe you out financially or ruin your company’s reputation.
Even if you have a data breach response plan in place, you could be overwhelmed by what actions your business is required to take. The U.S. has 47 state-specific data-breach notification laws in effect, and they are all different, according to channelnomics.com. If you offer services or have customers in more than one state, the compliance costs to follow each state’s legal notification requirements could be significant. In addition to the notification laws differing between states, so are the follow-up requirements, such as providing police reports and free credit reports.
It’s important to have a business identity theft protection plan that addresses these issues thoroughly.
Make Secure Passwords a Priority
While security mishaps are often beyond your control, you don’t want to make it easy for the thieves. The best insurance against your next data breach is to implement some basic security best practices. Make sure to
- Use secure WiFi when accessing sensitive information online
- Use available security measures like two-step account verification
- Create strong and unique passwords
I am fascinated by the number of friends and clients who still use the same password on every site, or write all of their passwords down and carry them in their wallet (the photo to the right is from one of my customers – I’ve blurred everything out for his protection). Guess what happens if you lose your wallet? Not only are you out the login information, but if your wallet is stolen, then you have just given someone the keys to every aspect of your life. If you aren’t currently using password management software, then please start now.
Since online merchants and secure websites aren’t doing a very good job of keeping our data safe, despite claims to the contrary, the best defense against your next data breach is to make sure that whatever logins are stolen are both strong and unique. The better password management systems will create the passwords for you. And, the best part about this software is that the only password you have to remember is the password that unlocks the software. Now, isn’t that a lot easier?
As it is said, the best defense is a good offense. By arming yourself and your business with the right protection, tools and strategies, you will dramatically minimize your risk of becoming a victim to the next data breach.