Data Breaches 101: How Digital Threats Can Affect Your Business

By Keith Millett | Jun 15, 2018 | Blog

It’s not something a business wants to experience, but it’s something everyone must nonetheless be aware of: the potential of a data breach. Although we often hear about high-profile companies targeted by hackers on the news, organizations of any size are potential victims. That’s because hackers aren’t necessarily looking to damage a specific kind of organization—they simply want data that can be sold to the highest bidder.

Considering the prevalence of data breaches, we’ve compiled several strategies you can employ to reduce your risk of becoming the victim of a breach and minimize the impact should a breach occur.

Discovering a Data Breach

Multiple suspicious indicators can help you identify a breach, but unfortunately, the statistics state that the most common way you’ll know one has occurred is through a third-party notification; most likely, a government agency will contact you to say that your data was found online. Another potential method of discovery is through the installation of systems that notify you of suspicious activity and/or if any data leaves your network in an unusual way.

The most prevalent cause of data breaches is phishing, which can occur in a variety of forms whereby end users are deceived into providing their information, disclosing their credentials, or accessing a website that compromises their device. Other common attacks employ social engineering, exploit vulnerabilities, and crack weak credentials, such as a password that’s used across multiple platforms.

Calculating the Business Impact of a Data Breach

Your immediate next steps depend entirely on the extent of the breach. Once you’ve established a baseline of what data was affected, you can determine who and what was impacted and how to contain the attack. Your approach also depends on the tools or infrastructure your company has in place and whether your company is regulated by state or federal laws or has compliances requirements from external agencies.

Without knowing the specific consequences, it’s hard to quantify the impact of a data breach on your business. Some of the impacts will be financial, some will be legal, and some may be reputational. According to many studies, the heaviest, most immediate costs will be related to forensic and data restoration services. Furthermore, if customer information was breached in the attack, you’ll need to pay any costs associated with credit monitoring and possibly fines levied by regulatory agencies.

The hardest cost to measure is the impact of the breach on your reputation. Over a period of time, you’ll be able to see if there is a loss of trust—fewer people returning to do business or more vocal complaints online. As a result, you may need to invest more money in marketing and public relations activities to bolster your reputation.

Implementing a Data Breach Prevention Plan

The last and most important step in recovering from a data breach is to learn from your past mistakes in order to prevent or minimize future damage. For example, you should consult with a third-party expert that can analyze your current level of security and provide guidance on resolving any vulnerability issues. Based on these recommendations, you could then perform ongoing audits and assessments to show your end users how well-prepared your organization is for data breaches.

At CTI, our IT network assessments are designed to establish a baseline and develop a roadmap for your future IT efforts and investments. Whether you need a detailed analysis of your present and future IT needs or a higher-level evaluation, we deliver a thorough, insightful appraisal of the actions you need to take to achieve success.

Specifically, with our disaster recovery assessment, we will evaluate your current plans for business continuity and data recovery in the event of a disaster and then help you prepare for tomorrow’s resiliency, compliance, and security challenges.

Contact us today for more information on how to reduce your organization’s risk of being the victim of a data breach.