It seems like every couple months we see a major headline in the news of a company that has been hacked. Inevitably, either product information or the personal information of millions of employees or customers is stolen. This triggers many substantial losses for everybody involved.
From a company perspective, losing this type of data is a serious hazard that can result in lost sales and diminished customer trust. Therefore, it is imperative to have secure data. In the long run, it will save your company a lot of money.
Serious Data Breaches are on the Rise
Although most companies make some level of effort to protect their data, the number of serious breaches of security is still on the rise. In the first six months of 2014 alone, nearly 500 million records and 1.2 billion email addresses or usernames were exposed. Of these, just over half took place in the business sector of the world economy.
Not only are the number of hacks increasing every year, but sometimes the severity of them is unnerving. For instance when Ashley Madison – a dating site for affairs – had over 25 gigabytes of user information stolen, hackers blackmailed the company by indicating that the data would be released publicly if the site did not shut down. The hackers made good on this promise in August of 2015 when the company refused to take their site offline.
Big Impacts of Data Disclosure
Much of the information leaked in large hacks is personal information of both customers and employees. This includes email addresses, user names, credit card information, and occasionally social security information. All of which can be extremely damaging to bank accounts, credit, and social standing when it falls into the wrong hands.
Generally if a company is hacked, they see a significant loss in customer support as many fear that purchasing products will put their personal information at risk. Often times, this results in a drop in company sales, which can have an extremely negative impact, especially for small businesses. For example, after Target was hacked, they saw approximately a 46 percent drop in sales during the fourth quarter; when Sony was hacked, their stock dropped roughly 10 percent.
Steps to Prevent Information Loss
There are multiple ways to help make your company more capable of resisting a data breach. Some of these include getting rid of data that is no longer necessary, destroying what you do get rid of, keeping software security up to date, and encrypting data transmission. A number of high tech companies are even using big data and predictive analysis to help catch fraudulent transactions before they happen.
Another powerful way to better protect your company is to educate employees about some of the dangers associated with failing to safeguard company data. Frequently, employees are unaware what business information could be considered sensitive, so written policies and open communication is highly beneficial. Furthermore, make it clear that company computers are meant for work purposes, even if they are taken home regularly. Doing so can help prevent a significant amount of risk with your company’s data.