Rarely does a month pass without some new revelation regarding a major cybersecurity breach of an information system maintained by a bank or major business. Indeed, national banks and large businesses routinely spend millions of dollars annually to fight hackers and others who are intent upon stealing valuable confidential customer information.
Legal Exposure is Much Broader Than Many Think
Executives at many small and mid-size businesses think that they are immune from liability when it comes to cybersecurity issues. They aren’t. If you maintain confidential customer information, if you accept credit card payments, if you have any sort of online order system, you are vulnerable and you can be held liable if, through the negligence of any employee, your business causes the release of confidential information.
Five Cybersecurity Tips for Small- to Mid-Size Businesses
Tip 1: Secure Your Network
Make certain that your Internet connection operates behind a firewall and uses encryption software. Have your IT consultant make sure that your Wi-Fi network does not broadcast the network name. Institute a strong password for access to your routers.
Tip 2: Establish Clear Security Practices to Protect Sensitive Information
Make certain that your employees understand the nature and danger of online threats. Establish clear procedures for the handling of client or customer information. Your system is only as strong as your weakest employee password. Ensure that all employees with access to your sensitive information employ strong passwords, and that they are changed frequently. Have each employee sign off on the policy to make certain that the employee is aware of the consequences of a policy violation.
Tip 3: Work With Your Bank Regarding Payment Procedures
Your bank is already spending money to handle its end of the financial transaction process. Use your bank contacts to make certain that your firm is using the latest and most trusted anti-fraud tools to handle payments. If you have direct contact with paying customers, move toward the use of the safer, more secure chip card technology on many credit cards.
Tip 4: Monitor Laptop Use
Laptops are vulnerable. Even if you have a policy forbidding it, employees with laptops tend to allow others to use them. Make sure that business laptops allow administrative access only by qualified, trusted members of your IT staff.
Tip 5: Pay Special Attention to SmartPhones and other Portable Devices
News photos of the former Secretary of State accessing information via a smartphone should send chills up the spine of all corporate executives. It isn’t that the devices can’t be used; it’s that special care has to be given to security, since they often utilize public networks. Require all users to password protect their devices. Encrypt all data and install security apps to prevent access by outsiders.
Failure to Exercise Reasonable Care Can Result in Liability
Failure to take reasonable precautions to preserve and protect sensitive customer information can expose your business to liability. As you examine your business processes, you should allocate time, energy, and resources to cybersecurity as the legal implications of failing to do so are immense. Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S. has over 50 years of combined experience providing businesses with quality services throughout the Pacific Northwest. We routinely advise business on all sorts of legal issues related to business operation. We strive to find simple solutions even to complex business issues. Before it was trendy, we worked collaboratively, both with clients and with other attorneys in the firm. That way our clients can benefit from the many strengths that our attorneys can bring to bear on an issue. For assistance with any type of business issue, contact us on the web, or call our Tacoma or Puyallup office at 253-272-2997.