More than 70 percent of private companies and organizations in the U.S. experienced some form of data breach in 2014. The issue of cyber threats span the globe, and the state of California has long been at the forefront of tackling cyber security risks; it was the first state to require businesses and organizations to report data breaches through notifications of compromise. These cyber attacks come in many forms and are executed by varying assailants, ranging from basement hacktivists cracking code as a form of protest to foreign aggressors actively seeking to steal sensitive data. With the Golden State having so much on the cyber line — water reserves of central California, intellectual property rights of Hollywood professionals and the cloud services boom of Silicon Valley — business owners need to educate themselves on how they can reduce their cyber liability exposure and protect sensitive and valuable information from being stolen or held for ransom.
When state and federal sites are vulnerable to compromise, it affects everyone — individuals, businesses, and both private and public sectors. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) experienced one of the most potentially devastating breaches to date in June 2015 when the background investigation records of over 21 million people were compromised and copied from the OPM records. The information stolen was determined to be of high confidence and sensitive nature, such as Social Security numbers. The assailants also gained access to the information of applicant and employee spouses’ sensitive data, and 5.5 million fingerprints collected for background checks were robbed from the database in the process. Though unconfirmed, the investigation into the breach indicates that the attacked may have been instigated by hackers in China.
Though technological advances showcase many advantages, it seems with every leap forward, a host of new threats are there to cast a net. Since digitalizing and cloud storage of data have become preferred methods of storage over space-wasting hard copies, data is easier to access and replicate on demand, which opens the door to unauthorized access and distribution.
To protect the data handled by your company, begin with upgrading your security. Many businesses in California have already invested in security for their sensitive data storage, and businesses nationwide have boosted spending on cyber security by 24 percent.
The Federal Communications Commission recommends a 10-step process of best practices for businesses to follow in order to boost security, which includes:
- Training employees in the principles of cyber security
- Updating programs and software regularly
- Protecting internet security through firewall installation
- Installing security apps for any mobile devices used to run your business
- Backing up data and information weekly, if not automatically
- Creating user accounts for each individual employee to control access and ensure accountability
- Encrypting and securing Wi-Fi networks
- Working with banks directly for anti-fraud practices
- Limiting the number of people authorized to install software, as well as the number of employees with access to data
- Requiring authentication through passwords which are changed on a regular basis
Cyber Security Insurance
Insurance policies provide liability coverage to protect businesses or individuals from injury or property damage. The cyber security insurance policies cover issues such as:
- Costs accrued due to a privacy breach, including cost of consumer notification and credit monitoring for affected customers
- Costs associated with replacing, restoring or updating electronic business assets
- Expenses associated with the inability to conduct business due to a privacy or security breach
- Costs related to copyright infringement, slander, and product disparagement
- Costs relating to the damage of reputation of others in relation to social or print media
- Expenses related to cyber terrorism or cyber extortion
- Coverage for expenses specific to medical billing errors, Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act proceedings
Companies and organizations must stay one step ahead of the cyber crime that comes with the online territory. Since California businesses will continue to be particularly at risk due to the nature of business conducted in the Golden State, securing your business against cyber assaults demands you be informed, preemptive and insured.
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