Business Identity Theft and Data Breaches—What’s the Difference?

While in the past the phrase “data breach” may have seemed foreign to the average person, today the term frequently crops up in headline news stories as incident after frightening incident of companies losing customers’ credit card numbers occurs by the thousands.

Launched into the public eye by extensive data breaches weeping across massive companies like Target, Home Depot, and Anthem, the public is more than aware of these attacks that threaten both the companies they shop at and the personal information they provide there.

However, there are also other threats that should be on a company’s radar—types of attacks such as business identity theft which often receive far less attention than high-profile data breaches, but are nevertheless just as important to prepare for.

Today, individuals are no longer the lone targets of identity thieves. Instead, companies must also be on the watch, as criminals will now steal and use the identity of a business to establish lines of credit which extend farther than the average individual—leaving the damage to a business’s own credit history all the more severe.

Regardless of the method of attack, the potential consequences and long-term impact of both business identity theft as well as data breaches can be severe.

Throughout this white paper, we provide not only an in-depth guide to data breach and identity theft prevention strategies to help companies securely manage their sensitive information, but also include several key points to include in all your data breach and identity theft recovery plans.

Business ID Theft and Data Breach Recovery Tips

Although a company should take all preventative measures available to protect themselves from the possibility of a data breach or business identity theft occurring, no realistic company should hope for the best case scenario without first planning for the worst.

As the rates and overall damages of these incidents have continued to trend upward with recent years, many companies as a result are strongly encouraged to look ahead and create a data breach recovery plan to outline how the company would respond if disaster were to occur.  

A business bungling their response to an attack resulting in the loss of customer information can inflict crippling damages to a company, which range from simply the resources needed to remove or restore compromised records, to the poisonous public image they will present in not being able to protect their sensitive information.

The following is a breakdown of how to properly handle an attack and the necessary components of every data breach recovery plan:

Eliminate All Threats First

Imagine a data breach or other form of attack compromising some or all of a company’s records as a coffee stain spilling on some or all of a company’s white shirt.

If this business wanted to wash their shirt to remove the stains—or in other words restore their breached information—they wouldn’t start furiously scrubbing the stains if there was still a chance coffee could spill on the shirt.

Similarly when it comes to security breaches of any shape, size, and source, the first step a business must take is not to immediately start responding to the single attack, but to instead take the preventative steps to ensure the cause of the breach has been fully removed—thereby stopping damage where it started without another attack occurring.  

Emphasize the Importance of Internal Communications

While a company IT department or other securities managers may receive more than their fill of media attention following an attack, other officials or departments like PR will likely be the ones handling public response.

Consequently, it’s imperative businesses emphasize communications between these two departments or any other related parties who must be kept in the loop.  

Miscommunications and changing facts hurt the reliability of a business already under the gun in the public eye. In order to ensure a professional and presentable image in the face of disaster, businesses must be sure all employees from top to bottom are informed and up-to-date so attacks are handled properly.  

Manage Public Relations—Restore External Trust

Besides the expenses required to mend the immediate damage caused by business identity theft and data breaches, another more-subtle cost of these attacks is the damage done to reliability and trustworthiness of the victim company.

Many customers will be worried of their information potentially being stolen again in the future, or at the other end of the spectrum, some others may worry about companies trying to minimize their portrayal of the damage and stolen information to help save face.

As a result, companies are now strongly encouraged to be as forthcoming and open as possible when communicating with the public, as it helps to portray reliability and a proactive approach to resolving problems.   

During communications with the public, a business should try to emphasize an image of transparency and sincerity as they provide support for affected parties. Additionally, focus on plans for improvement, as rebuilding and improving now helps to restore trust that a similar attack can be prevented in the future.

Practice, Learn, and Optimize Recovery Plans

In a constantly-changing security landscape for businesses, it’s important to constantly be looking for places to improve company response plans, as attackers are always improving their methods.

Whether your business has been recently attacked, or another separate company has just had its own time in the spotlight during the midst of a breach, take the contributing factors and other causes leading up to these incidents as the data and research needed to create a successful data breach recovery plan for the future.

This way, businesses are always prepared for the worst of today’s threats—rather than what has shaken the business world to its foundations in the past.

Conclusion—Closing Thoughts to Keep in Mind

Like any other type of crime, data breaches and commercial identity theft have no foolproof method of prevention.

Despite this however, there are certainly still plenty of preventative measures available to companies to help reduce the chances of an attack by as much as possible.  

Above all, the key is in proper long-term planning—including a particular focus on aspects of the business such as how records and information will be stored, secured, and of course, an emergency breach recovery plan for how the company would respond in the face of disaster.

So as you now either take the initial steps to create a draft for document management and breach recovery plans, or are working to actively revise and improve existing processes, be sure to keep these final considerations in mind:

Evaluate Record Storage and Management Needs

Before businesses can plan to prevent and recover from information being compromised, they need to know how it will be stored and facilitated.

The choice to manage records using a DMS, cloud storage system, or even via offsite facilities will impact not just how security is managed, but who will need to be involved in the management process.

Keep a Constant Eye on the News

From the latest in recent legislation regarding handling data breaches and information security, to company data breaches or modern types of attacks, staying up-to-date on what’s going on in the world around your business is essential if you want to avoid being just another victim.