What comes to mind when you think of identity theft? Probably someone stealing your credit card info or social security number, right? How about fraud? Maybe sketchy corporate employees hacking into their systems or engaging in illegal stock trading. Right?
You’re not alone. Most people associate data breaches with individuals and big business, but fail to make the small business connection. However, small businesses are at bigger risk for data breach than ever before.
Here’s why you need to take your data security seriously:
1. Most small businesses that experience data theft end up shutting down. Data theft isn’t cheap. In fact, it can cost you millions in recovery fees, fines, and more. As you might imagine, most small businesses simply can’t afford to pay the costs of data breech. So unless you’re looking forward to filing bankruptcy, you need to start taking your information security more seriously.
2. Your customers take information security seriously. The personal implications for identity theft are huge. In fact, it’s one of the scariest things that can happen to a consumer, and one of the biggest reasons people often balk from purchasing online.
The fact is that people have to always be wary of who they give their personal information to, because trying to repair identity theft can prove a nightmare. You better believe that your customers expect you to guard their information with your life. And if you end up giving it away, well, we can already smell the lawsuit.
3. Large businesses are getting information security down, so hackers are shifting their focus. While larger businesses still have to worry about data breeches, it’s safe to say that the majority have learned their lesson and are taking drastic measures to secure their data. As a result, hackers have shifted their focus to easier targets””people like you.
It makes sense, right? Who are you going to steal from if you’re a thief? The muscle bound biker or the defenseless little lady? Thieves pretty much always choose the path of least resistance.
4. It helps keep your employees honest. You’d like to think you can trust your own employees, right? After all, you’ve invested a lot into them, from the hiring process to training and more. That being said, can you really trust them? Listen to these statistics from Inc.com:
- An employee is 15 more times likely to steal from you than someone outside your company.
- Three-fourths of employee crimes aren’t caught.
- Employee theft costs American businesses a total of around $40 billion each year.
The odds are against you and your employees. So it’s your job to do what you can to keep your employees on the straight and narrow. A big part of that is putting internal policies and procedures in place to protect sensitive information. If you make data security a priority from within, then it will reduce the likelihood that an employee will compromise that information.
5. Because most small businesses don’t take it seriously. According to a recent study by the information security experts over at Shred-It, 69% of small businesses don’t believe data being lost or stolen would damage their business. However, as the data above suggests”¦no proves”¦this line of thinking can’t be afforded.
The fact is that hackers and identity thieves fully realize that most small businesses aren’t taking them seriously””that’s why they are focusing more and more on these small businesses. It’s going to take people like you to wake up, recognize the issue, and take a stand against it. As more small businesses make changes to increase security, those who would steal information will likely begin to look elsewhere.
What steps are you taking to secure your sensitive data?
About The Guest Author: George Hillston is a freelance business and technology writer from Toronto, Ontario. You can find more of his work on his Google+ profile.
Information Security Photo via Shutterstock