As the Equifax data breach and its aftereffects play out, small businesses owners are not only dealing with the threat to their personal credit but also the increased risk of business identity theft.
Tuesday, a group of attorneys representing the interests of small businesses filed a class-action suit leveled at Equifax. The claim argues that small business owners are at increased risk of suffering multiple damages from the breach, including exposure to business identity theft and problems getting access to capital due to damaged personal credit.
The Risk of Cyberattacks Is on the Rise
The number of cyberattacks is surging globally with no sign of slowing, according to a report from Gemalto. In the first half of 2017, almost 2 billion data records were either lost or stolen, an increase of 164 percent compared to 2016. The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement Wednesday that its computer system was hacked last year, potentially giving hackers access to private information that could be exploited for trading.
While the increased risk of attack is concerning to businesses of all sizes, larger businesses are often better equipped to deal with data breaches because they have the personnel and resources to not only detect them but also deal with the fallout. As a small business owner, you have fewer resources to deal with data breaches and you also have more to lose. Because your business identity is often directly linked to your personal credit, you’re at risk for a larger financial impact.
How to Protect Your Information Right Now
You should already be thoroughly reviewing account statements and credit reports to check for suspicious activity. If you suspect your information was compromised by the Equifax or another data breach, ask for a fraud alert from one of the credit reporting companies. This will allow creditors to get a copy of your credit report as long as they take steps to verify your identity, and it will stop anyone from opening new credit accounts in your name.
How to Deal with Future Threats
While you many not have the budget or the capacity for a dedicated IT team, here are four simple measures you should put in place right away to protect your business and your personal information from future attacks.