Data breach is the exposure of sensitive customer information due to hacking, theft or the accidental release of data. Business owners are expected to be custodians of customer information and have a reasonable expectation to protect their customers’ data. A data breach is impactful for all businesses, but it can be devastating for a small business without the resources of a larger corporation. In this four-part blog series, we share what business owners need to know to diminish the possibility of a data breach and its destructive impact if one is experienced.

MYTH #1: It won’t happen to me.
Facts: No matter the industry, data breach is a real concern to any business. From restaurants and bars running hundreds of credit cards every night to medical offices with piles (both electronic and physical) of sensitive patient information, it can happen to anyone.

Consider these simple actions that may lead to data breach, and the industries that could be affected:

  • Failure to shred customer documents (janitorial service)
  • Medical records falling off a truck on a freeway (disposal service and medical provider)
  • Skimming devices that steal customer data installed in credit card machines (retail, convenience store, gas station)
  • Stacks of printed credit card slips (restaurant, tavern)
  • Lost laptop computer containing sensitive customer data (medical office)

Still not sure? Did you know there have been over 867 million records compromised from over 4,000 data breaches made public since 2005. Find them all here.

MYTH #2: The bank will handle it.
Facts: It’s important that business owners don’t automatically assume that anything dealing with stolen card numbers is the bank’s problem. In fact, payment processors often have contracts with businesses that give them the right to recoup certain costs from the business.

For example, one major credit card merchant typically assesses a charge of $2.50 per card that is exposed in a breach. While that doesn’t seem that significant, consider how many customers hand over a credit card at even the smallest restaurants: Example, 5,000 exposed cards would cost a business $12,500 in bank costs alone!

MYTH #3: It only affects big businesses.
Facts: Forty-percent of data breaches in  2012 occurred among companies with fewer than 100 employees. Thieves often “start small” to test and perfect their methods, although these breaches don’t make the top news headlines. While there may be less reward in skimming card information from a small corner bar than there is in the mega-retail market on the other side of town, small businesses are an easier target that carries less risk of being caught.

By not protecting your company, by doing nothing, you put yourself and your business at great financial risk and you risk damaging your reputation. Next week in part 2 of this Data Breach Series, we will share ways your business can protect sensitive information and prevent a data breach – subscribe for email alerts.

Excerpts were taken from the following sources. For more valuable information on data breach:

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