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Identity theft protection is crucial for all businesses

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This guide outlines what identity theft means for businesses today and why identity theft protection is so important. According to the Global Risks Report 2020 by the World Economic Forum, cyberattacks are the fifth top rated risk that affects both businesses and individuals. Furthermore, the trend continued in 2021 as cybercriminals found new ways to invade businesses without identity theft protection. 

Plus, due to the pandemic, there is a wave of cybercrime swiping up the world and taking everything it can take. From ransomware attacks to ID theft and phishing, the methods get more and more creative. However, in most cases, cybercriminals have one main target – sensitive data that can be used to get a profit.

Theft, or more precisely: the misuse of identity data has developed into a massive problem in recent years. According to a representative survey by the auditing company PwC, almost every third person in the world has been the victim of an identity theft. Six percent of those each reported that a fake account was created with their data – for example on eBay or Facebook – or that their credit card details were stolen and misused. Three out of ten of those affected had suffered financial damage.

Identity theft is one of the consequences of a data leak since these usually contain names, physical addresses, email addresses, and other personal information that should remain hidden with identity theft protection. When such a leak happens, the business needs to take responsibility in front of their customers and partners, since they are at risk of becoming victims themselves. To avoid such a grim scenario, let’s talk about what ID theft is for a business and how it can be avoided with proper identity theft protection strategies. 

What Does Identity Theft Mean for Businesses?

ID Theft usually starts with a data leak, a phishing/ransomware attack, or something similar. When these attacks are successful, cybercriminals insert their bots into your database and extract as much information as possible. This means that credit card data, emails passwords and usernames, and any other sensitive data that’s stored on your servers will be compromised.

So, unless you take immediate identity theft protection action to change passwords and credentials for all your accounts, you risk having the ID of your business stolen. Now, if you are aware of the attack and what data was leaked, it is easier to take identity theft protection actions and block any further access.  However, this is not always the case. This exposes the targeted business to further damage such as:

  • Loss of income
  • Reputation and business partners loss
  • Problems with the IRS
  • Legal disputes
  • Possible bankruptcy 

How To Implement Identity Theft Protection

Businesses can benefit from the use of fraud protection services, but it’s equally important to implement various levels of protection for a bullet-proof cybersecurity system for identity theft protection. Here are some of the steps that will allow you to sleep better at night (as a small or medium-sized business owner):

  • Make sure all your devices (mobile and desktops) are up to date and clean. You should perform a monthly check to ensure everything is in order.
  • Teach your employees about the risks of engaging in unsafe behavior online while at work. Also, educate them so they can recognize a phishing or malware attack before it happens. 
  • If you have remote workers, provide them with access to a solid VPN service and make sure they don’t use their personal devices to access the company’s network. Only approved devices should be allowed.
  • Establish a security protocol for each action that involves sharing files (either with a colleague or an external party) and make sure everyone understands the importance of following it. 
  • Use a reliable antivirus and anitmalware software designed to cover the needs of a business with several units and devices. 
  • Use a reliable cloud service provider that follows all recommended security protocols such as encrypted channels, security scans, and more.
  • Perform regular backups and save your data on external hard-disks or storage devices that you can then deposit in a secure location. This way, if you’re hit by a ransomware attack, you can wipe all the devices clean and start over.
  • Perform regular devices and network maintenance (it’s best to have an on-going contract with an IT support company) 
  • Set multi-factor authentication for the most important accounts in the company 
  • Create a system where only a few trustworthy employees have access to the most sensitive information of you business. This way, if something happens and you suspect an inside job, you’ll know who to check.

Of course, not all these measures work for all businesses, but it’s mandatory to at least have secure devices and make sure to use encryption with the most important communications for identity theft protection. It’s also important to have a layered security system. This way, if someone goes through the outer layers, they will be stopped on the way to the core of your business. 

Identity theft protection FAQ

What is left for the customer to avoid misuse of data?

As an individual, you can only defend yourself against identity theft and abuse to a limited extent with identity theft protection. If the data is obtained from a third party and you have not participated at all, you have no chance at all. The only thing that helps the injured party is the fact that they are not liable. Very often, however, you contribute to identity theft by disclosing your data yourself. Here the user has to protect his data, otherwise he is liable for damages. If, for example, a clumsy phishing email arrives and you have to enter your PIN and several transaction numbers, you have to be suspicious. Anyone who carelessly ignores suspicions is liable.

Do online customers have to be very adept to spot attacks?

Indeed, a big problem is what expertise we ask of the consumer. There are very different judgments about this. Overall, the jurisprudence tends to have relatively high requirements. In a recent judgment it was required that the owner of a W-LAN encrypt it and set up an individual password. Many users do not know that they have to do this. Anyone who takes part in the Internet must do what they can to ensure the security of the Internet. At the same time, the Internet must remain usable for everyone; it must not be restricted by law or liability risks. It is therefore important that users’ liability is limited in a moderate way.

Are the identities of private individuals only stolen or also from companies?

There is the famous example of someone trying to sponsor the Mercedes Formula One team on behalf of Henkel. In many cases we have identity theft and identity abuse by companies at the same time, for example in the case of classic phishing emails in which someone pretends to be a bank. Companies are just as badly affected as private individuals.

How can companies prevent this?

It cannot be completely prevented, even with the best identity theft protection. You can inform your customers and thus prevent the worst. For example, anyone who offers an Internet platform must inform their users that there is a possibility of identity theft. Enlightenment is active information, the user has to find the information without searching. Providers are obliged to introduce secure systems, and not all companies are up to date with the legal situation.

Conclusion

In today’s day and age there’s a lot you can do with the right type of data, which is why it’s become paramount that every business protect their own and the data of their customers with identity theft protection. So, before everything, it’s important to analyze the risks and learn your business’s weak points. This way, you’ll understand which protection systems work best for your needs. 

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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