The Data Breach Outbreak: Are you prepared?

I’ve heard it said that data is the new currency. Last week, Dairy Queen reported that its in-store payment system had been compromised by malware. And last month, Home Depot had 56 million customer credit cards compromised in a data breach that lasted five months.

Sears, Dairy Queen and Home Depot join such other national chains as Target, Neiman Marcus, Michael’s, Albertsons, SuperValu, and P.F. Chang’s that have all been plagued with security breaches over the past year.

While these data breaches are top news, little known breaches are taking place all over and most of the time no one knows. It’s not just the big retailers. It’s all of us, especially when we have personal information of others in our business systems. Small and midmarket business is most vulnerable. Think about it, the large retail chains and other robust businesses have the resources and dedicated teams to try to address and thwart these issues. We have seen however that they have not always been successful. The answer for a lot of these firms is to continually upgrade their security systems and be diligent in those efforts so it does not happen again. But we all know that technology changes and the thieves and hackers will be diligent in their efforts too.

Mid-market and small businesses don’t always have the resources to continually address these issues and the hackers and thieves know this. I’m not saying anything out of school… this is reality. It’s pretty obvious that it is much easier to hack into a system that is not protected properly and monitored regularly for irregularities.

The issue goes much deeper than that. People, you and I, need to protect our personal data and be diligent in those efforts as well. Just this past week I received an email from a “business associate”…it was identified as spam on my system. It was actually an email explaining that the business associate was out of town (which he was) and needed $1,400 to help his sick sister in Greece with an operation. My question is how did they (the hacker) know that the fellow was traveling and how then do they access his email contacts, one of which was mine? Strange things happen in this electronic world. Be on the watch!

And then there’s insurance…but that’s for another day.