Cyber Risks and Liabilities
Monday April 14, 2014“If you have customer information stored in a computer, this is information you need to know. Please call us for further information, (248) 634.7731.” Wendy Light | email@example.com Cyber Risks and Liabilities Understanding and Preventing Data Breaches What do Target, Nieman Marcus and Apple have in common? All these companies were victims of a data breach in 2013, totaling millions of stolen records that include personal information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers. If your company handles critical assets such as customers’ personal data, intellectual property or proprietary corporate data, you are at risk of a data breach. It doesn’t matter if you are a Fortune 500 company or a small “ma and pa” shop—cyber thieves are always looking for their next score. It is often assumed that smaller businesses can escape attention from cyber crooks, but according to Verizon Communication’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, 31 percent of data breaches were at companies with 100 or fewer employees. No company of any size is completely safe from a data breach. Data Breach Basics A data breach is an incident where private data is accessed and/or stolen by an unauthorized individual. Data can be stolen by a third party, such as a hacker, or by an internal actor (perhaps a disgruntled or recently fired employee). According to the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Survey, the average per record cost of a data breach was $188 in 2013, and the average organizational cost of a data breach was $5.4 million. Data Breach Prevention Techniques To reduce the chance for a data breach, it is wise to develop an IT risk management plan at your organization. Risk management solutions should leverage industry standards and best practices to assess hazards from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction of your organization’s information systems. Consider the following when implementing risk management strategies at your organization:
- Create a formal, documented risk management plan that addresses the scope, roles, responsibilities, compliance criteria and methodology for performing cyber risk assessments. This plan should include a description of all systems used at the organization based on their function, the data stored and processed and importance to the organization.
- Review the cyber risk plan on an annual basis and update it whenever there are significant changes to your information systems, the facilities where systems are stored or other conditions that may affect the impact of risk to the organization.
- Never give sensitive information like Social Security numbers or credit card numbers out over the phone unless you can verify the identity of the person on the other line.
- Shred all credit reports and other sensitive data before disposal.
- Educate employees about phishing and pharming scams. Remind them not to click on anything that looks suspicious or seems too good to be true.
- If your company doesn’t have an IT department, hire an outside company to set up the proper security measures for your computer network.
- Always monitor credit reports and other financial data for the company. If you see things that don’t belong, investigate.
- Do not allow employees to write down passwords in the office.
- Always encrypt sensitive data.
- Act quickly. Report the breach immediately to local law enforcement. Notify important suppliers, vendors and partners.
- Alert your customers. If there is a data breach involving customers’ personal information, activate your plan to alert them. The information compromised could be incredibly harmful to your customers, so alert them as soon as possible.
- Investigate. If you do not have the resources to do an internal investigation, consult a third party. The quicker the breach can be dealt with, the fewer negative effects your company will endure.
- Take measures to lessen the chance of a future breach. Fortunately, a data breach can be a good learning tool for your company. Analyze why the breach happened and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.