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Grow Your Business Security

5 Data Breach Threats Your Small Business Should Prepare For

5 Data Breach Threats Your Small Business Should Prepare For
Credit: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

Securing sensitive information has never been more difficult with new malware threats that seem to pop up every single year. Data breaches affect even the most renowned companies like Yahoo, LinkedIn and Dropbox, to name a few.

For small businesses, in particular, being ready for a data breach is essential to survival if — or more likely, when — one occurs.

"Preparing for a data breach has become much more complex over the last few years," Michael Bruemmer, vice president at Experian Data Breach Resolution, said in a statement. "Organizations must keep an eye on the many new and constantly evolving threats and address these threats in their incident response plans."

Based on Experian's Data Breach Industry Forecast report, here's some of the cyber threats businesses can expect:

Experian predicts that "aftershock" breaches — repeated unauthorized logins after usernames and passwords obtained in previous breaches are sold on the dark web — will continue to rise in 2017.

To mitigate this risk, companies can implement two-factor authentication to verify users, which helps solve the password reuse problem. Secondary authentication methods can be password alternatives such as tokens, SMS alerts, geolocation confirmation or biometrics.

President Trump stated during his election campaign that he would be in favor of using cyber weapons in retaliation against enemy states. Experian expects cyberattacks to continue against the United States, and with no international agreement governing engagements in cyberspace, the number of attacks will increase and could possibly escalate already existing tensions between countries."

As health care institutions deploy new mobile apps, it's anticipated that they will introduce new vulnerabilities that will be attractive targets to hackers. It is expected that ransomware will be the main type of malware used. The HHS Office of Civil Rights has classified ransomware attacks as requiring consumer notification; Experian suggests that preventing data breaches will become even more important. Consumers who have never been notified of breaches are likely to react strongly to news of their information being stolen.

Payment-related breaches will continue, since many small merchants still lag behind in their transition to EMV chip and PIN. There are legitimate barriers to adopting this technology, such as having to manage more infrastructures, the need for software updates to accept payments and the impact on the checkout process. However, the risk of not adopting the technology is high, as attackers have demonstrated the ability to exploit older technology.

Editor's Note: Need an EMV-enabled credit card processing solution? Check out Business News Daily's best picks here.

New regulations in Canada, Australia and the EU require companies to notify customers whose data has been stolen. Even if your business doesn't sell to international customers yet, it's wise to start complying with these new rules to ensure you are prepared in the event of an incident.

To prevent breaches, Experian advises all organizations to train employees on how to spot phishing attacks, keep all security software fully patched and have contingency plans for responding to a ransomware attack.

If your company falls victim to a data breach, prepare yourself and learn how to respond to it using tips found in this Business News Daily guide.

Shimon Brathwaite

Shimon Brathwaite is an undergraduate co-op student from Ryerson University, graduating in 2019 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. Shimon has worked in information technology and the water sports industry in between academic semesters. His hobbies include a wide variety of sports such as Soccer, Basketball, Muay Thai and keeping up with TV series like The 100 and Game of Thrones. Contact him at sbrathwaite@ryerson.ca and check out his website at cyberintel.ca.