With the continual advancements in technology, cybersecurity is something you will need to plan for. Without adequate protective measures in place, a data breach could leave you scrambling for solutions when it is already too late.

Cybersecurity is the process of developing a series of protective protocols, requirements and boundaries to secure sensitive information that your company requires for organizational purposes. It is an ongoing process that is best supported when it is regularly assessed for effectiveness.

The consequences of lackluster cybersecurity

While you may feel fairly confident about your company’s procedures for monitoring, accessing and utilizing sensitive information, even the slightest oversight may create a pathway for hackers to misuse data. Failure to put restrictions in place may allow unchecked access to anyone whose job allows them to input, view or retrieve confidential information. A data breach could cost you the trust and loyalty of your customers, take a costly toll on your resources and permanently damage or destroy your company’s reputation.

Whether your business endeavors require you to associate with customers, partners, shareholders or investors, each of these people will appreciate your dedication to protecting their sensitive, personal information.

Creating robust cybersecurity

There are many ways to strengthen your commitment to protecting private information. If you store or transmit any personally identifiable information, such as Social Security Numbers, then your cybersecurity protocol should include the following steps:

  • Identify and address threats: Outsmarting a hacker is a tall order. But there are practical steps you can take to bolster your protection from cyberthreats. Train all of your employees on how to create strong passwords, encrypt their data as well as identify and avoid potential phishing attacks. Install a reputable antivirus program on all of your company’s devices. Set up two-factor authentication for every company login.
  • Test for points of weakness: Use a third-party penetration testing company to challenge the security you have in place and see whether they are able to infiltrate your data. You can work with this company to determine whether you want to test only for external threats or also assess your own employees’ proclivity for jeopardizing your company’s security (e.g., by clicking a suspicious link or emailing sensitive information to a hacker disguised as a colleague). You can also decide whether you want to alert your staff to the test ahead of time or keep it under wraps – to better capture their natural responses.
  • Create a response plan: In the event of a cybersecurity breach, you don’t want to waste time trying to figure out what to do. Your response plan should include a communication plan to alert any senior executives who will be involved in containing or mitigating the breach. This plan should be multi-faceted – mapping out responses for any potential incident your company is likely to experience (network intrusion, malware infection, data corruption, loss of personally identifiable information, etc.).

No business owner expects a data breach to happen. But as with any disaster, preparedness and risk reduction are key to a quick recovery with limited damage.