As technology becomes more advanced, so do the methods and techniques of hackers and identity thieves. In order to prevent sensitive information from being seen and used by the wrong people, it’s absolutely essential that any business, regardless of size, invest in cyber security measures. For some industries, including medical centers and any organization that stores consumer credit card information online, are required by U.S. law to implement security measures. Failure to do so can result in lost clients, lost consumers, and lost capital.
It’s estimated that more than 600 data breaches have occurred in 2018 alone. Just a few of the most notable data breaches the public has been privy to in the last couple of years include:
Is there anything more ironic than a company whose purpose is to monitor credit scores allowing a data breach of sensitive information that leads to identity theft and lower credit scores for millions of its own users? When Equifax announced in September 2017 that more than half of Americans’ social security numbers may have been accessed in one of the largest data breaches in history, many expected the credit giant’s stock to plummet and that perhaps they would even have to shut down operations.
While the company is still in operation a year later, they didn’t make it through completely unscathed. In addition to being responsible for the lack of security that allowed the breach, Equifax also had to deal with a public relations nightmare.
In early 2017, it was announced that the personal data of Facebook users who had completed personality quizzes may have been leaked to third-party companies. Little did we know then that the events that would unfold would lead to a congressional hearing and an international political scandal involving the 2016 presidential election. As it turns out, Cambridge Analytica, the firm behind Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign and the Brexit movement, gathered private data from the Facebook profiles of millions of users in order to create strategic political and commercial campaigns for its clients, which included The Economist and The Financial Times.
The 2016 United States presidential election is one of the most significant data breaches in history. Aside from the ramifications of another country’s involvement in the United States legislative system, the sheer number of data breaches involved in Russia’s plot to interfere with the campaign are staggering. From social media to local campaign officials, this breach extended throughout numerous channels in numerous locations and may have even had an impact on the election’s outcome as a result of public response to Hillary Clinton following the information leaks by Russian hackers working in conjunction with Cambridge Analytica.
Google recently announced in October 2018 that it would begin shutting down Google Plus, the company’s failed attempt at a Google-owned social media platform, after it was discovered information on user profiles had been accessed be multiple third-party app developers, much like the scenario Facebook recently found itself in. The difference between Facebook and Google, however, is that unlike Mark Zuckerberg, executives at Google willingly chose not to disclose this information to the public for months amid the congressional Facebook hearings, citing a desire to avoid a public relations nightmare as their reason for doing so.
The problem: user data breach affected as many as half a million accounts that were visible by more than 430 different third parties. While Google adamantly denies any evidence to support that this information was used for nefarious purposes, the fact remains that the breach could become a nightmare for both the company and the consumers who could find their sensitive information in the wrong hands.
All of these leaks beg the question - if so many companies are aware of the risks of cyber security attacks, why aren’t they taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen in the first place? If your organization is involved in the collecting of consumer or client data, it’s essential to ensure your systems can withstand cyber attacks and hacks.
I NEED CYBER SECURITY
In addition to being responsible for the breach of consumer data, one of the biggest reasons to invest in cyber security that prevents hacks is being able to avoid public relations nightmares. Whether your organization is large or small, if you are responsible for a security breach affecting any number of clients or consumers, you are responsible for providing timely notice as well as an explanation for what happened and why, and if possible, information regarding the steps being taken to prevent further hacks or security breaches.
READ MORE: Equifax Breach: How a Hack Became a Public Relations Catastrophe
In addition to identity theft, one of the worst consequences of a data breach is the loss of important data. Whether your organization is a healthcare facility required to maintain patient records or you’re a small business needing to protect years worth of documents and intellectual data, safe cloud storage is a necessity. Our data center offers public, private, and hybrid solutions for secure cloud storage, and whether you’re already utilizing a cloud service or you’re in need of migration assistance, our team can take care of the entire process to ensure your important documents and information is stored safely and accessible anywhere.
From helping small organizations make the most of their technology to preventing security breaches and data loss for hospitals, large corporations, and more, PCS-MS offers a variety of IT services that keep your business running smoothly and efficiently. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to sign up for managed IT services that allow you to have the benefits of a full-time IT department without the additional costs.