More and more often we see stories in the news regarding data breaches at major companies, from the Sony hack that put the data of millions of gamers onto the open marketplace to the Home Depot breach that put the credit card information of thousands of their customers onto the Web. The Ponemon Institute, which tracks such incidents, estimates that the average cost of a security breach is $3.5 million, with the lowest that they have knowledge of at $750,000 and the highest at nearly $31 million.
The volume of these attacks is on the rise, with credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions leading the list of companies that have to deal with hackers on a regular basis. Other companies aren’t safe either, though, as all information, of any kind, will command some kind of price on the black market. Hackers will go after any storage that they find is easy to breach in the hope of finding some sort of paydata.
This means that your company isn’t safe either – any data is a commodity, and its loss may hurt you more than it lines the criminals’ pockets. Having all of your client information deleted, for example, can spell the bankruptcy of your firm, and in more ways than you realize. Not only will you no longer be able to have their history and such, but you’ll have to go to them, hat in hand, and explain that their data is no longer secure. This is not only embarrassing, but it’s also a bad blow to your company’s reputation.
Reputation is important, especially if you have a bad one. You don’t want to be known as the company that lost data. Customers expect companies to realize all these threats and have security in place to prevent it, making it your responsibility to guard against them even if they are a lot more sophisticated than conventional means can handle. Sony is a good example: it took a public apology by the CEO and the board for a horde of angry gamers to stay on as customers, and even then many left and took their wallets elsewhere. The consequences for Home Depot are still a little unclear, but their stock took a tumble as shareholders started selling in anticipation of disappointing profit figures.
Security is no small matter. It can decide the future of your business. Unlike an individual, as an entrepreneur you can’t rely on free options or on downloadable programs; you’re going to have to enlist the services of IT security professionals who can set up a suite of protection for you and who will monitor your security situation at all times. It may not be cheap, but the alternative can cost you a lot more.