In the last few weeks the news has been full of coverage of one of the biggest data security breaches in history. Between 17-19th April, Sony's global online PlayStation Network gaming service was compromised, resulting in the theft of the personal details of over 77 million users.
This shocking event has caused the network to be shut down completely ever since then, with so far no fixed date for its return. The data theft has led to widespread criticim of Sony, with talk of possible government investigation from the UK, US and Canada and also multiple lawsuits. There are likely to be far-reaching long-term consequences for Sony in terms of restoring the trust of customers and also the developers that rely on the network to sell their software.
If one good thing has come of the whole affair, it will hopefully make small businesses wake up to the importance of data security. Now that one of the largest companies in the gaming market has been compromised so severely, it is apparent that a small business needs to take the utmost care when handling sensitive data.
Criminal cyber attacks are now one of the biggest threats to any small business that operates online. Anything aspect of business that puts the personal details of customers at risk should be dealt with immediately.
The consequences of poor data security will lead to a small business facing similar problems that Sony are currently dealing with. You may face criminal charges if you are in breach of data protection laws or civil lawsuits if your data neglect causes customers to lose revenue.
If your small business was non-operational for up to a month just like the PlayStation Network, it is highly unlikely that you would ever recover. The statistics show that 93% of businesses that suffer data loss for more than ten days go bankrupt within the next year.
I advise that all small business owners take some time to re-evaluate their company data security and consider additional back-up methods.
Disclosure:The author Stefan Töpfer, Fellow IOEE, is CEO of WinWeb.com - a leading cloud based small business infrastructure provider (small business software, e-Commerce solutions & business process outsourcing) - the views and opinions expressed are his and are based on over three decades of personal experience as a serial entrepreneur, #1 small business blogger, mentor and angel investor in the SME/SMB sector.