Did you wake up to the news this morning that 143 million Americans were affected by the Equifax breach? 43% of Americans had sensitive information like social security numbers stolen in the Equifax breach. The incompetent company which delayed the announcement of the July breach is one of three agencies charged with “overseeing” your entire credit portfolio. Even if you aren’t one of the people affected, this should be a serious wakeup call. You are a hacker’s target. Yes you, even you with no money and bad credit. Yes you, the person who has an entry level job. Everyone is a hacker’s target, and allowing yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security is the first step toward letting hackers ruin your life.
First things first – if you think you may have been affected by the Equifax breach, click here.
Data breaches ruin businesses. Large businesses and corporations have the means and the staff to prevent data breaches and to mitigate the damage when they do occur. Small businesses take a much larger hit. When a small business is affected by a Equifax breach even if it is not as large and disastrous as this case:
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There’s a bigger percentage of financial loss, often enough to put the small business out of business entirely
There’s much greater damage to reputation than many small businesses can withstand
They were unprepared because they wrongly assumed hackers go for larger targets
They don’t change their security habits because they don’t feel like they can get hit twice
They give up because they don’t believe information security resources are within their reach
Hackers. Target. Everyone. No matter what sector, no matter how much business you do, no matter which part of town you are located in. We often think of retail as being the only sector targeted, or at least the biggest sector targeted. After all, it’s in the news all the time. Target, Home Depot, Taco Bell, and more have experienced high profile data breaches with just the latest being the Equifax breach (an agency supposed to secure your personal info – the irony). But there are more data breaches that go by without people knowing in service industries, manufacturing, and real estate and finance.
So what do you do if you are a small business and you don’t know how to prevent problems from occurring? First, make sure your vendors are all using good security practices. Ensure your employees use good password hygiene. Make sure everyone only has access to what they need and nothing more. Be vigilant about password changes and make sure you have a BYOD policy. But most importantly, know when it’s time to reach out for help from the professionals. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s an indication that you are realistic. Learn more about information security for small businesses from this infographic!