• Create a formal, documented risk management plan that addresses the scope, roles, responsibilities, compliance criteria and methodology for performing cyber risk assessments. This plan should include a description of all systems used at the organization based on their function, the data stored and processed and importance to the organization.
• Review the cyber risk plan on an annual basis and update it whenever there are significant changes to your information systems, the facilities where systems are stored or other conditions that may affect the impact of risk to the organization.
Not all companies have the resources to create and implement a fully customized plan. However, there are many simple, cost-effective steps any business can take to help prevent a data breach.
• Never give sensitive information like Social Security numbers or credit card numbers out over the phone unless you can verify the identity of the person on the other line.
• Shred all credit reports and other sensitive data before disposal.
• Educate employees about phishing and pharming scams. Remind them not to click on anything that looks suspicious or seems too good to be true.
• If your company doesn’t have an IT department, hire an outside company to set up the proper security measures for your computer network.
• Always monitor credit reports and other financial data for the company. If you see things that don’t belong, investigate.
• Do not allow employees to write down passwords in the office.
• Always encrypt sensitive data.
If your company handles critical assets such as customers’ personal data, intellectual property or proprietary corporate data, you are at risk of a data breach. It doesn’t matter if you are a Fortune 500 company or a small “ma and pa” shop—cyber thieves are always looking for their next score. It is often assumed that smaller businesses can escape attention from cyber crooks, but according to Verizon Communication’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, 31 percent of data breaches were at companies with 100 or fewer employees. No company of any size is completely safe from a data breach.