2014 was the year of the hacker. On what seemed like a weekly basis, new reports of corporate security breaches continually held the national spotlight. No company was too big to be affected, and some of the most publicized cases included brands like Target, Michael's, Sony, Kmart, Home Depot, Ashley Madison and Neiman Marcus.
Today, more than a quarter of Americans say their credit card information has been compromised within the past year as recently reported by a Gallup.com survey. Because of the disturbingly rapid increase in this trend of security breaches, brick-and-mortar and online companies alike around the globe are developing more stringent strategies to protect their data and customer information.
As the rapid expansion of technology continues to penetrate people's daily lives, businesses must learn to protect digital assets through the implementation of a multi-faceted digital security blueprint which covers everything from physical access to user policies. If a company fails to do so, it is more than likely that particular business will lose the majority of its customers at the first sign of a breach.
No company is immune. Secure your information and data and you stand a much greater chance at securing your business's future.
Online Security and Privacy Issues Come First
The reality is hackers are more likely to target companies with poor security. A security breach for a small business could lead to its failure. Target's data breach has left the business reeling, resulting in the replacement of Chief Executives in both the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, the hole in the company's cyber security system ultimately ended up costing Target an estimated $148 million.
This enormous loss should make one lesson painfully clear; go to great lengths to protect your businessâ€™s data or suffer the consequences. In the digital age, no matter the size or reach of your business, everyone relies on digitized data for day to day operations.
JP Morgan also learned this lesson the hard way and as a result now spends $250 million per year on digital security which it plans to double in the near future. This is a huge investment on JP Morgan's part which could very likely set a precedent for businesses who are ready to invest in such precautionary measures.
It is more crucial now than ever for companies to keep close watch on the data that is transferred in to, out of, and within the company because data is the new currency. With the number of companies hacked in 2014, every business owner should be asking one question, "How much should be spent on data security in comparison to the loss the business would incur in the event of a breach?" Security should be the foremost concern for any company operating today.
How to Strengthen Digital Security
The first step to reinforce digital security for a business is to ensure that the plan currently in place is not one that is reactive, but proactive instead. Too many organizations have a contingency plan in place for the aftermath of a breach versus a plan to prevent a breach, or at least render the data useless to hackers.
Several steps can be taken to ensure that data stays protected:
Encrypt everything. This technology allows for restricted access to files and renders data useless to those not in possession of the key, greatly diminishing its value and chance of being targeted. The process may at times be challenging, but it is a necessary implementation for security.
Train employees to recognize threats. For many organizations it is mandatory for employees to receive training to recognize phishing attacks, malware sites, etc. Be sure that all employees within your organization are aware that security should be everyone's concern, not just a single department's.
Test systems on a regular basis. Look for holes in the security system much like a hacker would. Ensure systems are properly maintained and operating as such. Test employees by sending out fake phishing emails to validate that security training has taken root for the whole of the organization.
On a daily basis hackers invent new strategies and develop new codes to steal information online that is viewed as vulnerable. With giants such as Sony, Amazon, and JP Morgan under fire, it sends a crystal clear message to business owners the world over; no company, or individual for that matter, is invulnerable from attack and theft.
These problems will persist and get worse before they get better. The time to pull out all the stops in digital security is now.
What steps have you put into place to keep your data secure? Add your voice to the comments below with any suggestions as to how business data can be secured.
About The Author:
Digital producer, online marketer, community manager, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney-Brown has been managing cross-functional teams for online businesses since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is one of the Web's foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She's produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, community management, social networks, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and spiritual counselor. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.