With the ever-advancing digital sphere and hackers developing new ways to gain access to private information, it’s vital to keep your data protected. In 2021 alone, there were over 4,100 data breaches that exposed more than 22 billion records, and that’s only the ones that were publicly disclosed. With how many data breaches there have been in the past year and the financial impact following, knowing the importance of cybersecurity and what you can do to protect your company’s data is paramount.
One of the most important aspects to think about in terms of data security and privacy is how it affects your customers. Not only is protecting the data they give to companies at the forefront of their minds but if a data breach ever occurs the reputation of your brand can take a massive hit. On the other side of the coin, knowing that a company is taking the security of customer data seriously can improve brand reputation or make prospective customers more interested in your business.
Warding Against Private Company Data Being Leaked
While many positives of data security center around your customer’s data, protecting your company’s data is another reason to have the proper security. Information such as your employees’ sensitive information and your business and production plans can be leaked which will not only put your employees at risk but may cause you to lose a competitive edge over other businesses in your industry.
Financial Impact on the Company
Having to clean up after a data breach is much more costly than taking the time to invest in security. Although it’s often larger companies that are in the news for data breaches, over 40% of data breaches are targeted toward small businesses, with 61% of small businesses experiencing a cyberattack in 2021.
For smaller businesses, the yearly cost on average is around $25k, although this number can differ depending on the industry and size of the particular business. For larger companies, the cost of a data breach can easily reach millions in damages and fees.
How to Take Action
But knowing the importance of data security is only half the battle. You’ll also need to understand how to put this into action. Two challenges that business owners may run into when upgrading their security systems are budget and lack of proper infrastructure.
Budgeting for cybersecurity can be a difficult task as it depends on several factors. These include your company’s size and your particular industry, any compliance or regulations that affect your business, the opinions of any stakeholders or investors as well as your customers, and the type of data you collect. But many of the steps you’ll need to take to secure your company’s data can be done for a relatively low cost, especially compared to the financial loss a data breach may cause.
Upgrading your infrastructure and employee responsibilities to upgrade your cybersecurity can be split into two points: what data you collect from your customers and how employees are trained to handle this data.
The Data You Collect
Following Google’s phasing out of third-party cookies, there’s an increased emphasis on reimagining the way marketers, advertisers, and other fields gather and use data. Many are shifting to a process where they depend on first-party data, meaning that you’re directly acquiring data from your customers through surveys, your customer relationship management system, or email marketing to name a few. Zero-party data may also be an option, where you directly ask your customers what information they’d like to share with you such as with loyalty memberships.
Training for Employees
You’ll need to outline employees’ responsibilities surrounding data such as who decides what data is collected, how often it’s collected, and whose responsibility it is to collect it.
The employee or employees you delegate to focus on data security need to be trustworthy first and foremost, with a deep understanding and knowledge base surrounding security issues. They should be trained on phishing and scam attempts, strong passwords, and other sorts of training that will protect data and reduce the risk of human error.
Secondly, you’ll need to have an understanding as an organization of the tools you’re using and the security protocols you’re following. Training your employees doesn’t stop at making them aware of scams and other ways hackers may attempt to gain control of your data. They’ll also need to be well-versed on what to do in the event of a cyber attack and you can use these exercises as a way to improve on your training.
Cybersecurity Is a Necessity
Investing in data security is a way to not only keep your customers happy and retain their trust but protect your company’s business plans and other sensitive information. Although it may seem like a high task to update your cybersecurity protocols and train your employees on how to keep data secure, it’s vital to keeping your company’s and your customers’ data safe.