Copyright: qvist / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: qvist / 123RF Stock Photo

The headlines regarding data hacks of the last two months from both the business world and presidential campaigns remind us that our data security is constantly under attack. Whatever you think of the campaigns this year, you need to resign yourself to the fact is that you are almost certainly going to be hacked.

I am not suggesting you should forget about electronic walls or moats or fences. You’d be foolish not to have them. But the number one thing to remember is this: 100 percent deterrence is practically impossible to come by, unless you want to unplug yourself from the web entirely. And that’s not realistic.

Because I thought they are again timely, following are a couple of observations I made about the alternative strategy of containment several months ago:

  1. Acknowledge that, while necessary, security walls and other deterrence measures are highly unlikely to be 100% effective at defeating determined hackers.
  2. Admit to yourself that breaches will occur.
  3. Have two plans in place: one for before the hack and one for after the hack.
  4. The “before” plan should include a detailed review of what data is stored on your systems and where is it stored. Map it out so you know. Also, take a hard look to see if you really need all of the data being stored. As storage has become cheaper, more and more data is being stored for longer and longer periods of time. Importantly, conduct a review with all of your vendors. In many of the high profile breaches of the last three years, vendors’ systems were used as a “back door” into the primary target.
  5. The “after” plan is what to do after you learn of a hack. This means having your IT, insurance, PR, marketing and legal team, and response plans, in place. Getting in front of the breach is essential. You want to reassure your customers and, if a franchisor, your franchisees, that you are putting their interests first.

Now is the time to develop your plans. Customer loyalty depends upon your preparation.