How Protect Customer Data and Information

Topics: AmTrust News Cyber Liability Risk Management

The recent news about the Equifax Data Breach incident may get you thinking about your small business’s data security. If you aren’t familiar with the story, here is some background: malware (software designed to damage or disable computer systems) installed on some of the restaurant’s payment systems may have been collecting customers' credit and debit card information.

In lieu of this story and others like it, you may be wondering: is my customer data secure? What else can I do to protect it? This article will discuss ways you can help improve your data security and how to better protect your customers' data.

Protecting Your Data – and Your Client's Data, Too

One of the best ways to protect your data and guard against cyber exposure is to make sure there aren’t any cyber exposures undefended. To do that, we recommend regularly completing a Cyber Security Risk Assessment. During this analysis of the client’s cyber risks, consider the following:

Employee Training
All employees should be trained on the importance and methods of data security. Both physical and digital records should be safeguarded at all times, and confidential information about clients, employees or corporate affairs should always remain secured.

Data Quality
Old data should be properly archived or deleted based on local and federal laws, and company policies. A data breach can result in litigation.

Data Encryption
All data, whether on a personal device, computer, or server should be protected by proper encryption. Companies in many states can benefit from safe harbor exemptions that only apply if the company can prove the data was encrypted before a breach.

Data Prevention Preparation
While having a good procedure in place is a great way to prepare for a cyber security breach, an untested procedure could have many flaws. Practicing the breach plan offers the opportunity to uncover and plug any holes in the plan before there’s an actual data breach.

Preventing Cyber Security Attacks/Breaches

How can you prepare for a data breach? Consider the following:

  • Have a breach response plan: The sooner you alert stakeholders, the more likely a better outcome.
  • Have a breach response team: A cross-functional team coordinates efforts across the company.
  • Establish data encryption: This is critical to keeping sensitive data safe.
  • Train employees on hacking trends / prevention: People are key to prevention and preparedness.
  • Get cyber liability insurance coverage: When a breach happens, this coverage can assist with some of the costs associated with a breach.

While there’s no way to guarantee you won’t get breached, there are steps you can take to help reduce the cost if a breach does occur. Clearly, the best way to mitigate the cost of a breach is to be prepared: secure the business, get a plan in place, and make sure everyone knows their role in preventing and responding to a breach.

Warning Signs to Keep an Eye Out for

Watch for Unusual Behavior
If a program acts up, it could simply be a software or hardware malfunction, but it could be something much worse. Check the system for other irregularities.

Investigate Suspicious Files
If malware is detected, or a user reports opening a suspicious file, don't take any chances. Assume that the malware has infected something, and don't stop investigating until you find out what, if anything, was breached.

Monitor System Communication
Regularly review communication patterns on the network. If an employee’s computer is accessing other workstations or transmitting large amounts of data to somewhere outside of the network, this could be a sign of a compromise.

Run Scans
Keep anti-virus and anti-malware programs up-to-date. Also, run vulnerability programs to look for missing patches and other security risks.

Check Your Credit
Customer information isn’t the only confidential data on the server. Chances are, there's plenty of information about your company on there, too. Changes in your credit rating could be an indication of fraud.

Protect Your Organization with Cyber Liability Insurance

Cyber Liability Insurance policy from AmTrust can help safeguard your company against loss and damage in a cyber attack. Contact an AmTrust agent today to find out how you can benefit from a policy, and how to protect your organization from cyber security attacks and other data breach threats.

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