While major corporations suffering data breaches make the front page of the paper and spend millions fixing the damage, small businesses experiencing the same breaches can experience even more damage without generating a single headline. While Target can absorb the $67 million paid out in the wake of the 2013 data breach, your small business probably can’t afford to do the same in the wake of one of the following privacy mistakes.

Not Prioritizing Data Security 

Small businesses have tight budgets, and many put off adding additional security measures until the money is there. However, the money might never be there if a single privacy mistake exposes sensitive company or customer data. If you cannot afford to have an IT professional on staff, work with a company providing managed IT service support to make sure that your hardware, software and employee devices are all secure.

Forgetting About Privacy Policies 

Companies of any size can legally limit liability for specific types of data breaches and private data use with clearly-written privacy policies and terms of use. Each is a binding contract that any website user must follow to use the site. Unfortunately, many small businesses save a few bucks and copy and paste these important agreements from other websites. Every business is different, and every business collects different types of customer data. Consult with a law firm to draft up a policy that works for your company.

Ignoring International Laws 

The privacy mistake could cost you! Privacy laws in Europe are much stricter, so assuming that what you are doing for United States customers is sufficient won’t cut it. Many small businesses assume that nobody will notice them skirting around privacy laws and regulations, but ignoring those small international differences could be very costly if you are caught. In every country that you do business, you should understand the privacy law differences.

Letting Employees Commit Privacy Mistakes 

This two-fold privacy mistake is incredibly common in small businesses with remote workers. If you allow employees to use weak passwords that are less than 8 characters, all letters or easy-to-guess words, you are setting yourself up for a data breach disaster. All employee passwords should be complex, long and changed regularly.

The second employee privacy error is providing no controls over “bring your own device” set-ups. While almost every small business depends on employees to invest in tablets, computers and smart-phones independently, you should have policies in place with how employees access private and sensitive data in the cloud. If you have tight controls on office computers but allow employees to put corporate data on unsecured personal devices, you could be creating a serious weak point in your security.

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