Running a business requires focusing on many challenges coming from a variety of directions. IT issues tend to be among the most important, including information security, in terms of business continuity, regulations compliance, and client/employee confidence. In fact, a recent Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends survey revealed that document security is the top priority for the year ahead. This makes sense, as one security breach could have major ramifications.
Here are a few of the ways an IT security breach could negatively impact a small or medium business.
Operations Applications and Data
The various departments within your business use technology and information to operate. Whether it is human resources, finance, inventory and shipping, or sales and marketing, they all depend on documents and data.
Employees within these departments are frequently accessing files and information from numerous sources, making it possible for malicious software to enter their workstations or the wider network.
Should this happen, these departments (and potentially other parts of the business) could see their operations become interrupted—or even come to a standstill—until the problem is resolved.
Partner and Customer Trust
For most small and medium businesses, close relationships with customers and partners are the main reason they are able to compete with larger corporations. At the core of these relationships is trust. And today, trust involves keeping information of all types completely secure.
Not only you, but your partners and customers could be directly impacted by a breach within your organization. For example, a hacker could access your email list, and send out a phishing email to these individuals. These emails could contain a malicious link that installs ransomware on their laptop or smartphone.
A breach could also expose their confidential data, including financial and contact information. Many U.S. states require that you notify your customers and state officials if important customer data has been compromised, and there are federal industry regulations as well. It’s highly likely a breach could negatively impact relationships with existing and prospective customers.
Regulation, Compliance, and Liability
If your organization is in healthcare, education, legal, or financial services, regulations and compliance are not new topics. You are likely aware that a security breach would be a major problem. That said, many small and medium business leaders may not realize the extent to which they are exposed to regulation from the payment card industry (PCI).
PCI security requirements dictate that even an organization that may have had a security breach undergo an investigation. This sort of IT audit is immensely expensive, and it is the obligation of the company to pay for it. Otherwise, the use of credit cards may be prohibited at that business, seriously affecting the bottom line.
More and more states are taking or considering steps that will allow individuals to hold businesses accountable for the long-lasting, wide-ranging effects that a data breach can have. This includes compensation for fraud monitoring and remediation, liability for charges, and the cost of replacing credit cards. If the breach affects a large number of people, this expense could be immense.
Small and medium businesses face many challenges, and IT security does not need to be one of them. Protecting the data for your operations and customers protects your revenues and profits. Some time and money spent on preventive measures is clearly worth the trouble that can come with a security breach.
Rather than take on these immense issues themselves, more and more businesses are outsourcing their security need to expert managed IT services providers. Even more importantly, these companies keep your business and livelihood safer. We recommend you not be one of the many organizations that know they may be a target, but choose to do little or nothing.