Cyber criminals love to steal sensitive data. Not only can this lead to identity theft, but information can also be held for ransom. Therefore, taking cybersecurity seriously is essential for any business.

Nearly every business keeps some data about its clients. Be it basic information such as their name and the date of their transaction, to more detailed information such as financial or identification numbers, this data can be a juicy target for hackers. If your computers are compromised through a cyberattack, this information could be made publicly available, or sold to the highest bidder. Either way, it can be absolutely crippling to your reputation if you must tell your customers that you failed to properly secure their information, and that the information is now in the hands of criminals. The severity of this will vary depending on the type of information lost, and the services you provide. While it may not be shocking to see a public list of customers at a grocery store, a clinic offering services for alcoholism or addiction should take great care to ensure that no such information is lost. Similarly, any information which can be used to commit identity theft such as credit card numbers or SSNs should be guarded carefully, as you could even be found financially liable for any damage done to your customers.

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In this way, not only can a loss of customer information lead to a huge hit to your reputation and a loss of potential return customers, but also can cost you directly. Lawsuits could be filed to attempt to recoup any money lost as a result of your mishandling of their information. Even if you are insured, many policies are light when it comes to protecting from this type of crime. Even if it seems like you are covered, sometimes simple technicalities such as the crime occurring over the internet (and potentially in a different country) might be used as an excuse for a company to avoid paying out. Even if they do, the cash flow problems potentially caused by retaining legal counsel, defending yourself, losing business, and fighting an insurance company can all be crippling.

Therefore, your top priority should be to avoid having information stolen in the first place. A security expert should design your data storage systems, and all machines used to store data should be routinely inspected for malware, and potentially wiped.