Take Steps To Safeguard Your Data

By Bill Boyd

mobile-devices-istock000067961851smallBusinesses not only face risks from natural disasters, but also from the intangible risks of cyber breaches. Not a day goes by without news of another high-profile data breach that compromises personally identifiable or sensitive records and information. The potential consequences of a single data breach can range from sizable monetary penalties, negative publicity, interruption of daily operations, and loss of public trust.

As a result, it’s vital to develop an effective plan to identify possible exposures to minimize risk.

1. Perform a risk assessment. A critical first step in enhancing data security is to identify system vulnerabilities and understand how data is managed and secured. Have a thorough inventory of the kind of information your have, how much of it you have, and where you have it.
2. Educate your team. Everyone is accountable in managing cyber risks, including temporary workers and contractors. Implement a sound internal communication and training strategy on the protection and proper use of sensitive data, including how to recognize and report security threats. Integrate cyber security into employee orientation, with an emphasis on the consequences of sharing passwords, falling for email phishing scams, exposing laptops and USB storage devices to theft, and otherwise neglecting to observe data security policies.
3. Know your vendors. When entrusting personal information to third parties, implement reasonable measures to ensure they have the capacity to protect this information. This means selecting only service providers that are capable of maintaining safeguards for personal information equal to or better than yours, and contractually requiring them to maintain such safeguards. You should also require your vendors to show proof of insurance to provide you with protection if they are the cause of loss.
4. Address portable devices. Accidental loss and theft of laptops, smartphones, and tablets are leading causes of compromised data. It is crucial to always encrypt these devices to render the protected information unreadable and unusable in the event of breach.
5. Make sure you’re properly covered. Insurance is an important safeguard. According to the Ponemon Institute, the average security breach costs organizations almost $200 for each record that’s stolen, or about $5.5 million for the typical company breach.

The advisors at Watkins Insurance Group are here to discuss how we can help protect your company and its assets. Call us at (512) 452-8877.

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