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Data Breach: Non-Monetary Damages are Painful

If your small business is unlucky enough to be the victim of a payment data breach, the out-of-pocket expenses resulting from a data breach are just the start of your headaches.

Consider the damage to your brand and your business reputation. Consumers who use their payment cards at your establishment place a high level of trust in your business, and that trust can be broken with just one breach event. In a Ponemon Institute study on breach notification, 57% of the people who had received a breach notification letter from a business said they lost trust and confidence in the organization. Worse, 31% of those surveyed said they terminated their relationship with the organization.

Regardless of the cause of the breach, consumers aren’t likely to see your company as a victim if their own data has been put at risk. Consumers would believe it’s your fault.  The obsessive nature of 24-hour news and social media add to the likelihood that people would hear about your data breach, no matter how small it is. Once information about a breach is posted on the Internet, it could turn up in search results indefinitely.

If your company suffered a data breach, credit and debit card associations like Visa and MasterCard could refuse to do business with you. Are you prepared to have a cash-only business? How many of your customers would take their business elsewhere or reduce the value of their tickets if they couldn’t use their payment cards?

Finally, a data breach diverts a lot of time and attention from daily activities of running a business to the nightmarish process of recovering from the event. You’d need to take time away from serving customers or overseeing normal business operations to respond to the breach.

Data theft processes evolve quickly and your approach to security needs to keep up. The best way to protect your business is with a thorough and ongoing data security program. A little preventative work goes a long way toward protecting yourself and your customers.

You can read more in Small Merchants: The Cost of a Data Breach Is Higher Than You Think.