Last holiday season as consumers across the country were busy swiping their cards at Target, hackers were happily swiping credit and debit card information from 40 million of them.
Then in September of this year, Home Depot announced that a massive data breach allowed criminals to harvest information from 56 million credit and debit cards in the US and Canada.
And just like that, both companies lost the trust of millions of their customers, damaging brand loyalty and making consumers everywhere wonder why there weren’t better security measures in place to protect their personal information.
The 2014 Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach Study estimates the globally, the average cost of a data breach to a company was $3.5 million, a 15 percent increase over the previous year. The average cost paid for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information increased more than 9 percent from $136 in 2013 to $145 in this year’s study.
Data breaches do more than financial damage – they do damage to your brand image and reputation that can be irreversible if not handled correctly. Ponemon’s research reveals “…reputation and the loss of customer loyalty does the most damage to the bottom line. In the aftermath of a breach, companies find they must spend heavily to regain their brand image and acquire new customers.”
So what can you do to protect your customer data and your brand?
Research indicates that taking preventative measures like having an incident response and crisis management team are effective in reducing the costs associated with the aftermath of a breach.
But having the proper tools in place to protect your own internal and customer data via a business continuity management (BCM) plan can not only help prevent a breach, it can also reduce the costs associated with a breach. Implementing policies and procedures that can help keep the most important pieces of your business running, ensuring your employees know how to access their documents and applications are critical components to a full business continuity plan.
“For the first time, research reveals that having business continuity management involved in the remediation of the breach can reduce the cost by an average of $8.98 per compromised record,” according to Ponemon.
BCM can not only help in the event of a data breach, it can also go a long way in improving your organization’s efficiency. BCM involves putting the right processes in place, including storing all of your sensitive data – print and digital – in a secure, centralized location that is easily accessible in the event of a disaster – cyber or otherwise.
With the ability to rapidly restore files after a catastrophic event, hard drive failure or human error, business continuity systems help companies get back to business more efficiently. Because of the prevalence of data breaches, many organizations are looking increasingly to third party solutions to handle their BCM initiatives – but this can be expensive and difficult to implement.
A better solution for smaller to medium sized businesses are enterprise content management systems which store documents and data in a central location that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Enterprise content management (ECM) is an integrated approach to managing all of a company’s documents, content and digital assets. With centralized storage, you don’t need to worry about the destruction of or access to physical files onsite.
Let’s remember breaches aren’t all online- stolen laptops, emails sent in error and lost paper files are all considered major security risks. With ECM, all data and documentation is stored centrally, and is securely accessed only by users with the right credentials. Data is date and time stamped for audit trails should there be a breach. With the prevalence of cloud services, small – medium businesses can obtain the same security benefits of the larger corporations with the benefit of low overhead, minimal startup investment, and the security of a redundant, disaster-proof data center.
Clearly communicating to your customers and your employees that you have a business continuity management plan in place, and assuring them that you are protecting their data 24×7 can mean the difference between a solid brand, and one that isn’t to be trusted.
Recovering after a data breach is a lot harder than managing risk before it happens. Your best bet is to proactively manage your data security now to mitigate risk and raise your customers’ brand conviction. In the end, they will love you even more.
Want to learn more about protecting your information? Take the DocStar ECM 6 Minute Tour and learn how to leverage technology to work smarter.