A Lesson in Security
As you may know, Sony's online gaming service, the Playstation Network, has been getting a lot of media coverage lately due to a major attack by hackers last month. Sony is a massive global company with billions of dollars and stockholders and spans multiple industries, but even a giant can teach us all a lesson that relates to our comparably small-fry organizations.
If you haven't heard about the security breach, Sony's Playstation Network was the victim of a sophisticated cyber attack where hackers made off with the customer data of 77 million users. This data includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and worst of all, credit card information. It also took down Sony's service, and forced them to keep it down for about a month before letting their customers back in. Developers who produce games for Sony were heavily affected as well, as with no Playstation Network, new release sales were down. In other words, it was a huge fiasco. So what does this have to do with small businesses? Above, I didn't even mention the worst side-effect of the hack. This is the part that few often think about. Sony disappointed a lot of loyal customers. They lost a lot of credibility, not just because of the hack, but how they handled the hack (it took them a few days before they even acknowledged it as a security breach, and even longer to explain to users what was stolen). It will take Sony a long time, and more money than I can ever expect to make, to rebuild the trust of its users. Certainly many will go back to using the service without a second thought, but that won't be the case with the majority. What's worse, is since the attack, other divisions of Sony have also been experiencing cyber attacks. Just the other day, another group of hackers managed to compromise personal information of another 1 million users on a completely separate Sony site. Media outlets have been having a field day, giving Sony plenty of coverage. What we're getting at here is that while a huge company like Sony can suffer greatly for a very long time in many different ways due to a flaw in their security; a small business can face the same issues. No, you won't get covered on CNN for being breached, but you could certainly face major downtime and lose customer faith and brand trust. The only difference is most small businesses don't have the financial backing of a global industry-spanning empire such as Sony. A major event could be enough to cause irreversible issues. As we've seen, it's vital to keep your systems up to date, to take security precautions, and to ensure that you are keeping your valuable data backed up. It doesn't matter if you are big or small; securing your data is immensely important.