Today, virtually all businesses collect and store personal information about customers, employees, and others. The frequency of data breaches — the theft, loss or mistaken release of private information — is on the rise.

The number of U.S. data breach incidents tracked in 2017 hit an all-time high with 1,579 breaches reported, according to the 2017 Data Breach Year-End Review. This is an increase of 44.7 percent from the previous year.

What is a Data Breach
In a nutshell, a data breach is a cyber security failure where information falls into the wrong hands.

Data breaches can originate from a variety of methods with hacking being the most common, totaling almost 60% of all breaches.

Other types of data breach attacks include unauthorized access, insider theft, data on the move, and employee error or negligence.

Preventing a Data Breach

It’s important for businesses of every size to take steps to prevent a data breach. Here are some practical tips:

1. Keep Only What You Need. Minimize the number of places you store personal private data. Know what you keep and where you keep it.

2. Safeguard Data. Lock physical records in a secure location. Restrict access to that information to only employees who must have access. Conduct background checks.

3. Destroy Before Disposal. Cross-cut shred paper files before disposing of private information. Also destroy CDs, DVDs, and other portable media.

4. Educate and Train Employees. Establish a written policy about privacy, data security and communicate to all employees.

5. Control Computer Usage. Restrict employee usage of computers to business use. Block access to inappropriate websites and prohibit the use of unapproved software on company computers.

6. Secure All Computers. Implement password protection and time-out functions. Train employees to never leave laptops or PDAs unattended.

7. Keep Security Software Up-To-Date. Use firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software; update virus/spyware definitions daily.

8. Stop Unencrypted Data Transmission. Mandate encryption of all data transmissions. Also, consider encrypting email within your company if personal information is transmitted.

Did you know you can provide Identity Theft Protection as an employee benefit?

Reinforce the values and culture of your company by providing Identify Theft Protection to your employees.