As the summer comes to a close, many businesses are taking time to reflect on the extensive amount of cybercrime that affected companies across the country over the last few months. In July alone, over 1,000 businesses were subject to attacks by hackers, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
These security breaches prompted Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to issue an alert to companies and consumers throughout the state, warning them to take extra caution with their personal information. As she investigates cybercrime cases involving companies like Neiman Marcus, Target, eBay, Michaels and Sony, the recent breach of over 1,000 companies reminds residents that large, well-known companies are not the only ones susceptible to attacks by hackers.
Illinois state law requires companies to reach out to customers and inform them that their personal information was subject to a data breach. Other than that, all companies and consumers can do is exercise more caution when dealing with online transactions and the storing and sharing private information.
It is especially important for businesses to take preventive measures to protect themselves, and their customers, from becoming victims of cybercrime. Some tips include updating antivirus software, requiring employees to use more complex passwords and having them change passwords more frequently, disallowing entry to sites after a specified number of unsuccessful login attempts, and limiting access to remote networks.
A 2013 study by Ponemon discovered that 35% of cyber attacks in 2012 resulted from employee or contractor negligence. Many POS systems in retail stores are also outdated, making accessing information that much easier for hackers. Educating workers who deal with sensitive data and updating systems to be able to withstand a cyber attack are imperative if companies want to protect themselves.
If anything, these overwhelming occurrences of cyber attacks should serve as a wake up call to businesses, small and large. Hackers are using more sophisticated methods, and security breaches are becoming an unfortunate expectation in businesses across the board. In order to protect customer information, and to keep business going, companies need to ramp up their data security efforts.