Data breaches remain at an all-time high, and the threat of data theft is driving consumers to change the ways they interact with businesses, if they choose to interact at all. In 2022, approximately 422 million people were impacted by a data breach in the U.S. This number increased by almost 41.5% from 2021. According to one consumer report, after a data breach, 81% of consumers would cease online interactions with the affected brand. Of this percentage, 25% would discontinue all forms of engagement with the brand entirely.
Data breaches can affect more than a business’ bottom line. Breaches also affect reputations. People share their experiences and leave online reviews, especially about a bad experience. Customers are also more likely to leave a bad review than a positive review. According to Review Trackers, 94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business. All business leaders should understand the potential impact of negative reviews because of insufficient data protection. Doing so can help protect consumers’ private information and, in turn, safeguard their business’ reputation and finances.
According to the 2023 Shred-it® Data Protection Report (DPR), only 60% of the small business leaders (SBLs) surveyed say they are proactive when it comes to data protection and a mere 22% report being ‘extremely proactive’, potentially leaving many small businesses exposed to the threat of a data breach. This is a decline from 2022 when 64% of SBLs reported being proactive. Vulnerable small businesses may risk losing customers and do long-term damage to their reputation following a data breach.
Reputation Management Tips
Reputation defines how consumers, employees, and other stakeholders perceive a business and can have serious implications. Consumers want to do business with organizations they perceive as honest, ethical, and aligned with their values, especially when it comes to data protection.
Data protection should play a role in every brand reputation management strategy. Shred-it®’s information security tips can help businesses keep their data and reputation safe:
- Create a culture of security: Effective data protection requires participation from all company employees. To mount the best possible defense against information thieves, organizations should create a culture of security by establishing policies that prepare employees to help prevent data breaches. A security-minded culture should include regular employee data protection training and workplace policies such as a Shred-it all policy.
- Implement regular employee training. Provide regular data protection training for employees. As the first line of defense against threats and often the target of external scams, employees can help reduce the risks of a breach. In addition to current employee training, new hires should also undergo in-depth data security training as part of the onboarding process.
- Understand the risks: Companies could struggle to develop an effective data protection program if they do not know where, how, and how long they store sensitive information. Information security professionals can help leaders understand their current data management procedures and help identify potential security vulnerabilities.
- Invest in solutions and personnel: A business could have a hard time preventing information security threats without investing in data protection technology and personnel. For example, all in-office and portable computers should have protections, including encryption, firewalls, and password protection. Information security professionals can help identify and address potentially new data protection threats on a regular basis. These investments might appear costly but could ultimately save companies millions in financial and reputational damages.
- Have a response plan: A company’s response to a data leak can also impact its long-term reputation. Organizations with data breach response plans can work quickly to minimize damages to customers and clearly communicate the situation to all stakeholders. Those without a response plan risk worsening the reach of a data attack and alienating customers.
- Remember to protect physical data: While most data breach media coverage focuses on digital data, physical data such as confidential documents and hard drives also carry a significant data security risk. Secure information destruction is one of the most effective practices to prevent physical data theft. Leaders should partner with a document shredding company that offers document destruction best practices, including lockable consoles, secure on or off-site destruction, and a proof of service after every pick up.
Physical Data Destruction
Shred-it® offers a wide range of reliable data destruction services that are designed to best meet your needs.
Shred-it®’s experienced team helps organizations keep their consumers’ personal information secure. Learn more about our services.