At this point in time, it very much looks like one of the most-used words of the 21st century is going to be “hacked”. There seems to be no limit on the number of businesses that have been hacked; some of the most well-known companies in the world have found themselves having to apologize for falling victim to hacking. Most recently, the Equifax leak was thought to have impacted half the US population— it’s clear that the scope for hacking knows no limits.
When you’re a small business owner, seeing these huge companies falling victim to hacks can be extremely disturbing. After all, if the big fish can experience this, then surely your smaller business can too? And if the worst does happen, are you liable for what then happens to that data?
The Good News
Let’s start with the positive news; there’s a reason big companies are hacked. These companies are targeted specifically because they are the big fish; hackers anticipate the largest payoff if they focus their resources on huge, multinational companies.
For small businesses, the potential for return on investment for hackers just isn’t as good, so there’s every chance that your company simply isn’t big enough to be worth hacking. This is one of the few areas where it’s better for your business to be niche and small, rather than huge and dominating the world!
The Bad News
Hacking is a relatively new problem, so it’s fair to say that the legal system hasn’t quite caught up to the liability of companies when they are hacked. There’s no cut-and-dried legal precedent. In some ways, that’s good news– you’re not definitely liable… but you’re also not definitely not liable.
In the current climate, the best thing you can do is be sure that your business is 100 percent compliant with all the rules and regulations surrounding data storage. This is especially true if you hold customer financial data; for example, an ecommerce store that stores credit card information. If you’re not immediately sure about where you stand in regards to security legislation, then make it a priority to contact a SOC auditor to assess your compliance. If you can prove you have taken the necessary steps to comply with legislation, you have a much stronger chance of defending your case in the event of a lawsuit.
The Ugly News
If you are hacked and customer data is leaked, then you might think that avoiding being found financially liable is the only thing you have to worry about. That’s not the case. In the aftermath of a hack, you’re also going to need to take huge steps to restore customer confidence in your business. This is easier said than done; it can take years to get your reputation back to a level field.
For modern businesses, hacking is an ever-present threat that can cause problems for a number of reasons. The best solution is to protect yourself as best as you can, and keep customers informed if you do suffer a data breach. If you can commit to these two things, then your business is in good shape.
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