Data Protection and Small Business: The Uncomfortable Truth

Small business owners have a lot of things to consider when allocating resources and managing daily operations. As a result, data protection often gets put on the backburner, if it’s considered at all. Many small business owners rely on the protection offered by the programs they use while failing to consider employee education, malware, and smart cybersecurity practices.

When you give your payment information to a small business, is it really safe?

Small Business Data Breaches

Small businesses who fail to invest in firewalls and online backup solutions for business are not only putting their customers at risk, they’re putting themselves at risk as well. In fact, it’s estimated that 60% of small businesses that experience a cyber attack close up shop within six months following the breach.

data protection

There are a lot of factors to consider here.

A breach means re-allocating limited resources – both in the form of cash and employees – to deal with the task at hand. Productivity wavers and the pursual of new business leads often falls by the wayside while the problem is being dealt with. Customers who expect their personal information to be protected lose trust in the business and may decide to go elsewhere after the breach. Finally, investors may no longer feel comfortable investing in a business that doesn’t prioritize the protection of information and pull their funds.

In addition to trying to solve the problem while managing customer and investor expectations, small business owners may find themselves with hefty legal fees and fines if an investigation shows that they were non-compliant with information protection regulations. These various factors can quickly overwhelm a small business and ultimately destroy it.

Education is Key

In many cases, the problem isn’t that small business owners intentionally put data protection on the back burner; it’s that they don’t know what they don’t know. A lack of education surrounding the implications of a data breach or what needs to be put in place to prevent it is what leads to a damaging cyber attack.

Small businesses are often attacked because they’re easy targets. Larger businesses have the resources and knowledge to create strong data protection protocols, whereas small businesses tend to have very little protection in place. This means that a small business that takes the time to implement data protection protocols is safer than their competitors who fail to do so.

In addition to the small business owner being unaware of the implications, their employees often lack knowledge surrounding cybersecurity as well. Not only should an owner take the time to learn about data protection, but they should pass this knowledge onto employees who could unintentionally cause a breach.

It’s not enough to say that they shouldn’t visit specific websites while on company time; they need to understand the implications as well and sign a document accepting responsibility for their actions should they choose to violate the policies put in place.

IT security

How to Implement Data Protection

Small businesses need to focus on a few key areas when it comes to implementing strong data protection practices:

  • Education for the business owner and employees about how data breaches occur and what happens as a result.
  • Understanding compliance regulations and adhering to them to protect the business.
  • Investing in insurance coverage to protect assets and assist with the fees associated with a potential data breach.
  • Regularly backing up data and creating a data recovery protocol.
  • Installing firewalls, malware detection software, and other internet security technology relevant to the needs of the business.
  • Data protection and cybersecurity policies written and enforced.
  • Working with an outside consultant to implement the above.

The cost of failing to put these practices in place far outweighs the monetary investment that often deters small business owners from doing so. The uncomfortable truth of data protection for small businesses is that failing to prioritize cybersecurity puts everyone at risk, and can be the downfall of a business.