In a digital world, businesses simply cannot afford not to be online any more. The Web is where new clients will get introduced to your brand, where your company will offer its products and services via a dedicated e-shop, even where a large part of customer service takes place. Yet, while most businesses nowadays run their own business website, not all of them know how to keep their web-based business safe from harm. What should you watch out for and why is it important?

Why Client Safety Is Important

Safeguarding your client’s data is crucial both for your business reputation and for your financial prosperity. While investing in implementing appropriate cybersecurity mechanisms and policies might sound costly, actually having to respond to a data breach incident and mitigate its consequences can prove devastating. Data breaches affect all kinds of companies and can cost millions. According to Statista, in 2018 alone there were 1,244 publicly disclosed data breaches which saw roughly 446.52 million records exposed to unauthorized individuals. That is a significant rise from 2017, when exposed records amounted to 178.96 million across 1,579 incidents – with the business sector experiencing the lion’s share in data theft, as it accounted for over 90% of all compromised records. Identity theft is the most common form of hacking, accounting for almost 60% of all incidents in 2016 alone. Having fallen victim to cybercrime can have devastating results for your financial standing as well as signal to competitors that your place in the market is up for grabs. As Statista reports, the biggest data breach to this date was recorded when Yahoo revealed in 2016 that hackers had gained access to roughly 1 billion user accounts in 2013, while just a few months earlier the same company had disclosed that another 500 million users had been hacked.

Yahoo’s share plummeted after the news broke, negatively affecting negotiations with Verizon, which ultimately bought Yahoo out for a much lower price than initially expected. Violating your customers’ trust that their data is safe with you can have far-reaching impact, so setting up the proper defense mechanisms is no longer a luxury but an absolute necessity. The first step towards making sure that you have everything under control is conducting a thorough check on the security of your company’s data. It is important to understand what types of data you hold online and where, in order to be able to ascertain whether you are doing enough to protect it. Risks can arise from the little things we tend to overlook. Forgotten or rogue data sets, misconfigured databases, unlimited access rights can all lead to allowing a hacker in.

Data: The Lifeblood Of Your Organization

Identifying your current situation is the first step towards implementing the appropriate cyber-security measures. If your company deals with big data or stores information on the cloud, then you must take extra precautions. Installing antivirus software and firewalls across all devices with access to your cloud data is just one example. Your employees are also crucial in the fight against hackers. In order for them to identify attacks correctly, they need to receive proper training and be informed on best practices when it comes to battling ransomware or phishing attempts. Hiring the right people for your IT department or seeking appropriate external counsel can also help your company develop its own cyber-security policy that better reflects your needs and is tailored to vulnerabilities specific to your enterprise.

Last but not least, focusing on online security is pivotal in order to comply with regulatory requirements. Legislative documents like HIPAA, SOX and GDPR, the latest EU data protection rules, all mandate companies to take active measures to ensure that data protection and privacy are written into an enterprise’s lifecycle. Showing your clients that you can provide strong defenses that rise to the highest standards set by authorities can go a long way towards ensuring their loyalty. On the contrary, suffering a hacker attack can significantly damage your reputation and ultimately impact sales and revenue. In fact, research shows that 46% of organizations that had fallen victim to a cybersecurity breach have found that this has damaged their reputation with clients and their brand value. It is important to realize that in a largely digital world, news of a company’s failures travel much faster than they used to – so the impact is much stronger. Recovering from such an incident can cost a fortune in resources and money.

Depending on the type of business you are into, it might be the case that you collect, store and process different volumes of data. But one thing is for sure: every company stores significant amounts of client data online, and protecting them is crucial for your brand reputation.

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