Data protection is often overlooked by small businesses. However, in 2018 a renewed focus has been put on data protection policies, and there have been changes made that could negatively impact a small business if they are found to be noncompliant.
If you run a small business and haven’t given much thought to data protection in the past, it’s time to invest in resources that can help in this area. Here are some interesting facts about data protection and how changes in this area affect small businesses.
Small Businesses are at Risk
While big businesses may have more information to steal, they also have more resources allocated to protecting that information. Small businesses often overlook data protection because they don’t feel like they’d be worth attacking– which makes them more susceptible to attacks.
Small businesses are less likely to invest in creating policies and becoming educated in the wonderful world of cybersecurity. As resources are limited, they often lack the recommended firewalls, process monitoring, and HIPAA compliance and cloud backup required to secure their business. This means that not only are small businesses at greater risk for attacks; they also lack the ability to recover their secure data after a breach.
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Small businesses aren’t the only ones who have historically neglected to think about data protection. Consumers have long since abandoned the precautions taken when the internet became a staple in the 1990s and live a large portion of their lives online. They felt comfortable entering their credit card information into PayPal, considering data protection to be a given rather than a concern.
Then, the Facebook breach happened.
The Facebook data breach affected 50 million Facebook accounts, which resulted in an estimated 90 million users being logged out of the social media platform, many of which have yet to return. This event created a renewed interest in privacy protection and got consumers thinking more critically about what businesses are doing to protect their data.
What does this mean for small businesses? Your customers will have less tolerance regarding data breaches and lackluster cybersecurity measures. To maintain trust with your customers, you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing to protect their information and be able to convey that to them.
Consumers who are subscribed to email newsletters are likely familiar with the newly introduced GDPR — General Data Protection Regulation. While it seems as though this regulation has swept through the world as a result of the Facebook fiasco, it’s actually been four years in the making.
In this modern era, even a small business with one employee can have a global impact. While GDPR is centralized in Europe, the rest of the world is getting on board as they see a paradigm shift toward the prioritization of protecting data. For small businesses, this means taking the time to understand GDPR and being compliant. All it takes is for one person from Europe to sign up for your internet newsletter for your business to be subject to this regulation, regardless of where you call home.
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How to Become More Secure
There are many ways that your small business can get in line with the times and ensure that your data is protected. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
- Understand your responsibilities: take the time to learn about what your responsibilities are for data protection, and what information takes precedence.
- Implement physical and technological barriers: locked filing cabinets, locked doors, password-protected information, and access rights management all play a crucial role in protecting important data. Additionally, having strong firewalls and anti-virus software, as well as a secure wifi network is essential.
- Implement backup protocols: backing up your data ensures that your business is protected in the event of a breach and that you don’t lose everything.
- Privacy policies: put privacy policies in place that tell your customer why you’re collecting information, how it will be used, and how it will be protected.
- Educate your employees: more than half of the data breaches that take place are due to employee error or carelessness. Educate your employees about your expectations and why this matters.
Protecting data is about more than being compliant in a small business. It’s about maintaining trust with your customers, so they keep giving you their business, providing job security to your employees, and ensuring the continuity of your business in the long run.
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