Data Breach Preparedness: A Critical Risk Management Priority for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

After hearing a lot lately about big companies suffering data breaches, it is important to remember that, according to, half of all cyberattacks target small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Based on a 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity Report, CNBC reported that in the prior 12 months half of all SMBs in the U.S. had been hacked. This makes sense when one considers FBI reporting (pdf) that an average of 4,000 ransomware attacks happen every day in the U.S., as observed in statements from SEC Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar, who in October 2015 said that:

Cybersecurity is clearly a concern that the entire business community shares, but it represents an especially pernicious threat to smaller businesses. The reason is simple: Small and midsize businesses are not just targets of cybercrime; they are its principal target.

Clearly, SMBs need to address this significant risk to their businesses. Strong IT safeguards are part of the solution, but not a silver bullet. Administrative and physical safeguards also are needed, such as access management policies, awareness training, equipment inventory, and vendor assessment and management programs. But even the best safeguards cannot prevent all breaches. Thus, SMBs need to be prepared for responding to the inevitable – that they will experience a data breach of some kind. Below are three key steps SMBs should take to improve their level of breach response preparedness.

Understand your risks and vulnerabilities

Develop and practice an “Incident Response Plan”

Create awareness throughout the organization.

All breach notification laws mandate that notification, if required, must be made without unreasonable delay. In some cases, notification can be required in as few as 15 days or even 72 hours. Thus, in all cases, SMBs have to act fast, sometimes very fast, making decisions that can have significant reputational implications for the business, as well as shape compliance and legal risks. Preparedness can make all the difference in the success of an SMB’s response to a data breach.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2024
National Law Review, Volumess VII, Number 257