Increase in Off-site Workers Intensifies Small Business Data Risks
Small businesses have become more aware over the years of the importance of data protection and backup. It’s a rare company that doesn’t have backup procedures in place, but it’s always a good idea to make sure those policies and procedures are up-to-date. Since surveys show that the average data breach costs a company $7.2 million, or $214 per breached record, properly protecting your company’s data should always be one of the top items on your priority list. Plus, many states are enacting laws about customer data privacy and security, and at this writing, 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have enacted legislation requiring notification of security breaches involving personal information. Experts recommend that you routinely back up your data, develop data and disaster recovery plans and educate your employees to the importance of customer data security.
Educating employees is crucial in today’s increasingly mobile society. A recent survey has found that up to 80% of workers in small to midsize businesses routinely use their own portable devices, such as laptops, iPhones and iPads, to work from home or on the road. Although most companies have formal policies in place to protect their vital data in the office, a surprising data protection gap has emerged with the growth of off-site workers. Fully one third of companies let employees make their own decisions about how, or whether, to back up company and client data on their own devices and as a result, valuable data could easily be lost or compromised. Instead of these informal arrangements, it’s a good idea to implement a formal Acceptable Use Policy that may include installing security software on the employee’s device.
If your business entails storing personal customer data electronically, you should talk with your independent insurance agent about exactly what your business liability insurance covers and discuss whether you need a specialized product to cover data loss coverage and electronic data liability to deal with the aftermath of a data breach. And while you’re having that discussion, you might also inquire about cyber liability coverage for protection against various legal liabilities related to disseminating information via the Internet.