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We hear a lot of talk about data security because of the constant threat of cyber attacks and hacking. News of data breaches are extremely common. As a result, we are exceptionally concerned about the branding and reputation consequences of a data breach. However, there are other events which could occur that make our data inaccessible. It is important to know you are doing the best you can to protect against cyber attacks, ransomware and other forms of data theft, but data security goes beyond that. Instead, let’s look at data from a broader perspective.

 

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Disaster recovery is a basic element of good business continuity planning. Business continuity planning refers to the broad range of plans created so that a business–that includes veterinary practices–can continue to be operational no matter what negative event might occur. Business continuity planning addresses severe, catastrophic events, loss of the lead doctor, director, or other principals in the organization, severe natural disasters that incapacitate a physical location, etc. Disaster recovery planning is one piece of this broad planning. Specifically, disaster recovery plans refer to how to quickly recover from some event that compromises your IT infrastructure.

 

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We hear routinely in the news that a major corporation or government agency has had its data integrity compromised, with millions of pieces of personal data accessed. In these cases the criminals behind the attack hope to get money by selling that data to other criminals. In the case of ransomware, the criminals want your money, and try to get it by holding your data hostage. Plain, old fashioned kidnapping with a hi-tech spin.

What can you do to avoid falling victim?

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This cyberattack scheme isn’t new, but it has become increasingly common over the past several years. Many of the viruses lurking out there steal data to be used for nefarious purposes. The goal has long been to access important financial and personal data that can be sold off. For example: Credit card numbers that can sold and used to buy things. Social security numbers that can be sold to be used to create fake identities. In the case of many viruses, victims may never even be aware their data has been accessed. Typical malware and spyware tries to go undetected. Not ransomware. Ransomware generally does not access your data to sell off to criminals. Instead, the virus kidnaps your data until you pay ransom.

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If you are unfortunate enough to be the victim of a ransomware attack, there are basically only three options open to you. Ransomware is a type of computer virus that kidnaps your data and holds it hostage for money. It has become increasingly common attacking governments and all manner of business and non-for profit institutions.

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Selling stolen IDs and other personal data is a lucrative trade for hackers. They are always looking for sources where vital information is stored. As a small to midsize business you store your client’s personal information, collected from different sources, on your computers and servers. Your Point-of-sale (PoS) terminal and some website transactions can be completed by use of electronic banking, credit cards or debit cards only. Your customers have to key-in their pins or passwords to make payments. That information has to be saved. Also, depending on the kind of services or products you provide, you may be collecting Social Security numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers and DOBs of your clients. Information that personal is as important as it can get. Any source of that information is like a gold mine for a hacker. All this means only one thing for you: A data security nightmare.

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There are many threats to the integrity of a small business, and not all of them are as dramatic as a cyberattack or a hurricane. Every small business needs to do a risk assessment to determine all the threats that exist that could bring harm. External threats are the ones that get the the most attention. These can be big snowstorms or hurricanes that bring down power lines and network connections. They can also be man-made. A power outage due to a grid failure, or an act of terror. Also in this category are phishing scams, cyber attacks and data theft from external sources.

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BYOD refers to a firm’s policy of allowing employees to use their own personal phones, tablets and laptops for all their work applications.This is a pretty common policy, and it has many benefits, but it brings along risks. How are you addressing these risks?

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Are you under the impression that data loss is all about putting up firewalls to protect against evil cyberattacks? Some of the biggest sources of data loss include sloppiness, human error, and just plain forgetfulness.

What are some of the unglamorous things that we do everyday that leave us vulnerable?

 

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Disaster recovery and business continuity plans are issues that almost all small businesses fail to think about. More frequently, they decide they haven’t the resources to address such “unthinkables.”

If your business was down for 1-2 days or more, what costs would you incur?

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