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How Equifax Can Serve As a Warning to Other Businesses

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More than two years after a massive data breach credit monitoring company Equifax will be forced to pay up to $700 million in fines, according to the U.S Federal Trade Commission. The 2017 data breach exposed the private information of 147 million customers, one of the largest data breaches in history.

FTC Chairman Joe Simons said, “companies that profit from personal information have an extra responsibility to protect and secure that data. Equifax failed to take basic steps that may have prevented the breach." With more and more data breaches impacting large and small companies, the Equifax incident should serve as an important reminder for companies to take cyber security seriously.

Here are some cybersecurity measures that businesses of every size should consider:

1. Keep your software and passwords updated:

Basic software and simple passwords won’t cut it anymore. You need to make sure your company’s computers have up-to-date antivirus software. You should also install a firewall and encryption information to protect your wifi connection. In addition, make sure you regularly change your passwords.

2. Backup all important information:

Businesses rely on certain information and documents--like databases, financial records, and employee information--to keep operations running smoothly. Make sure this critical information is backed up regularly. You can do this with a separate hard drive or on a cloud-based system.

3. Limit access to information:

Cyber attacks can come from external or internal sources. Limit access to sensitive information to key personnel only, and employee computers should be locked when not in use. You can also consider installing multi-factor authentication to ensure that only the right individuals are accessing sensitive information.

4. Train your employees:

It’s important for everyone in your company to be aware of cyber security best practices, and hold employees accountable when they don’t follow proper procedures.

5. Carry Cyber Liability insurance:

Many small businesses make the mistake of foregoing this policy, believing that only large companies need it. But, the fact of the matter is, cyber criminals can target anyone at anytime, and 40 percent of all cyber attacks target small businesses. Just one data breach could not only cost you tens of thousands of dollars, but it could do irreparable damage to your reputation as well.

Cyber liability insurance can cover a range of claims depending on what your business needs, including data breaches, network failures, and media liability, as well as costs associated with investigating a data breach, notifying customers, fraud monitoring for impacted customers, and legal costs and settlements.

Today virtually every business handles sensitive information on a daily basis, whether that’s credit card numbers, client information, or employee data. As a business owner you have a responsibility to protect this information from cyber criminals, so make sure you keep yourself and your business protected.