Data Breach News Is Worrying Consumers

It's a common credo among alarmists: "If you're not paranoid you're not paying attention." But these days, it seems like everyone is paying attention. 24-hour news cycles and push updates have made it almost impossible to avoid words of warning, especially in the cybersecurity space.

In a way, this is good for consumers. It's a loud and clear wake-up call: "The data thieves are coming! The data thieves are coming."

But the same cannot be said for private businesses. Believe it or not, all the news about data breaches spilling customer data is having a chilling effect on consumers.

If companies want to turn this trend of mistrust around, they'll need to do three things:

  1. Assure customers that their information is in safe hands.
  2. Do more to ensure that the data they handle is protected.
  3. Invest in data breach insurance, so that if hackers do strike, it won't be the end of the world.
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But be warned, this is not a quick fix. Establishing an environment of trust between yourself and the public takes time and energy. Then again, that just means this is all the more valuable to your organization.

How to Establish Trust

A Gemalto survey of over 10,000 customers found that 69 percent of consumers believe businesses don't take customer data protection seriously. More alarming still, 70 percent of respondents said they would stop doing business with a company if it experienced a data breach.

You might be wondering, Is this true or are consumers just blowing smoke? The unfortunate conclusion is that this is true. Take Target, for instance. In 2013, the retail giant suffered a massive data breach which spilled financial information on roughly 41 million customers. Over the next few years, Target saw customer complaints, lowered revenue, and a class-action lawsuit.

Companies like Uber and Equifax, who revealed major data breaches this past year, are also seeing decreased customer confidence.

Of course, Target recovered, partially due to their ubiquity and otherwise positive public perception. But what about small businesses without years of positive customer interactions to draw upon? It's better to avoid an incident altogether.

How to Better Protect Sensitive Data

There are plenty of opportunities to improve your digital defenses. Some are easy to implement. Others take a great deal of resources. But no matter the size of your company, you should seriously consider these following tips:

  • Use robust and unique passwords for all your accounts
  • Leverage encryption on all data in transit or in storage
  • Limit the number of people who can access sensitive data
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for all online accounts
  • Turn on auto updates for all software, including anti-malware programs
  • Avoid sharing information over email, as these are easily hacked
  • Backup important files and information into an encrypted cloud

Each of these suggestions makes it harder for hackers to breach your network. And in most cases, cyber crooks are looking for an easy target. By following these rules, you'll likely discourage hackers who will then take their schemes elsewhere.

The Importance of Data Breach Insurance

Still, it doesn't hurt to have data breach insurance as a safety net for your business. If a hacker does make away with consumer data, your insurance provider will help you cover the costs. Depending on your plan, this could include coverage for legal fees, network repair, data recovery, public disclosure, and more. Plus, your provider can offer advice on how to break the news. Don't have a data breach insurance provider? Visit CyberPolicy and get set-up with a provider today!

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