Businesses increasingly rely on the internet to conduct business, storing personal information such as names, addresses, and Social Security numbers. Consumers don’t think twice (and are required) to provide this sort of information to institutions like their banks. This is why it is increasingly alarming that big-name businesses like Citigroup, Sony and Lockheed Martin (even defense contractors are affected!) have had customers’ personal information compromised.
Since it is likely that your company relies on the internet for some of its processes, there are things that you should do to protect yourself from internet predators (one could argue that these companies were targeted because of their prominence, but they also have more sophisticated internet security protections than most companies). The Huffington Post provides clear guidelines on how to guard against a cyber-attack.
- Have a plan — have a “breach preparedness team” in place to assess the current risks and where your vulnerabilities are; map out a plan should there be a security breach (timeliness in dealing with such a breach could be critical in protecting customer and vendor information)
- Secure information — have not only physical, but electronic security at your business (this is not the place to save money!); limit employee access to sensitive information
- Dispose of data — if you don’t need it, get rid of it; wipe all used computers, hard drives, copiers, etc.)
- Limit outside access — allow as little information to leave site as possible (including cell phones and PDAs) and eliminate peer-to-peer sharing capability
- Trust the professionals — hire a specialist to help assess your situation and step in should you experience an unfortunate cyber-attack