Businesses invest a great deal into building an image of good reputation and high consumer esteem with the help of time and resources. However, a badly handled data security incident can gravely mar decades of goodwill. The consequences can be enduring, volatile and hard to keep in check.

Since consumer trust and partner relationships are extremely cherished by organisations, cyber criminals and hackers are becoming increasingly direct in taking advantage of brand reputation and trust-angles in their assault tactics – they aim to undermine the effort put in by organisations for brand reputation and steal what is invaluable to them.

With cyber related data security breaches reaching a whole new level across the world, with increasing emboldened attacks on all types of organisations, a recent research study reveals that consumer worries about data security and loss of confidentiality are unprecedentedly high. What was once considered a safe haven, financial institutions, educational establishments, and healthcare organizations are falling prey to ransom attacks and phishing. Organisations are now working harder than ever and investing time and resources to develop assurance to encourage consumers and communicate securely— despite the fact that they have not been directly attacked.

Data Security Crisis

Data security breaches are not just expensive, they also tarnish brand reputation and add a hefty hit to the bottom line through notification and restitution necessities, regulatory penalties, legal proceedings, and sudden deterioration in income or stock prices. In most cases, it is seen that small and medium-sized businesses, when hit by a data breach, are often unequipped to rebound quickly.

Large organisations are just as susceptible to data breaches and may incur permanent impairments. For instance, the continuing data breaches at Yahoo are a developing case study in the consequences of inadequate incident response, meagre rectification, and loss of public trust.

Bluntly put, every establishment, regardless of the size, must assume it will subsequently sustain grave repercussions from unforeseeable data security threats. It is crucial to plan for resilient incident response in the aftermath of a data security breach as conventional risk management can sometimes be inadequate.

A direct data breach task would be to build an agenda, prepare for possible scenarios, take critical course of action and manage the communication. These activities must call for the involvement of internal stakeholders, and could possibly also include the functions of external crisis management and media specialists.

When a breach takes place, in order to make effective decisions, there is a need to acquire the right information. Regardless of its size, every organisation must take stock of its preparedness and engagement in dealing with today’s ever growing security hurdles.

Even though, data breaches are not likely to disappear overnight, the good news is that they do not have to evoke all-out terror regardless of how sensitive the stolen information might be. Let’s look at some simple steps to minimise an organisation’s vulnerability to potential danger.

  • Step one: Discover the extent of damage – The first thing to do is determine what the cyber criminals stole. Hackers rob information all the time, but in some cases the stolen information might be unusable thanks to security solutions that have encrypted the data. However, if the stolen information is in the form of clear text, it means no encryption solutions have been used and it is easy to use and manipulate the data. If hackers have stolen information that has been hashed or encrypted, organisations must advise their customers to change their passwords, to be on the safe side.
  • Step two: Update passwords and employ a password manager – If the same password has been used on various other sites, it needs to be changed immediately. A single data breach can bring down other accounts used with the same passwords. A great way of creating new, strong passwords is to employ the use of a password manager. These applications protect passwords with encryption and can save them for every online account.
  • Step three: Get started on two factor authentication – Enabling two factor authentication on financial accounts is a strong layer of security in addition to passwords.
  • Step four: Explore implementation of additional controls such as blind API protocols.

Any organisation that builds an intensely entrenched culture of data security is bound to be ahead in the face of advancing threats and challenges. Leadership and senior management must remain ever watchful, as participants, objectives and stakes fluctuate in response to global changes and financial influences. To do this, it is important to keep up with trends and emerging hazards, draw lessons from experiences in other organisations, reassess plans and priorities and cooperate with data security experts.

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