Beauchamp: How to protect your firm and clients from cyberattacks

Security is top of mind after last year's high-profile cyberattacks.

Parker Beauchamp
Parker Beauchamp

Security is top of mind after last year’s high-profile cyberattacks. From credit card security breaches at The Home Depot, to the exploitation of Sony Pictures and celebrity iCloud accounts, enterprises and individuals alike are worried about what is in store for 2015.

PR, marketing, and advertising firms are on double duty to protect their company’s sensitive information, as well as that of their clients. Agencies have access to clients’ social media profiles, customer databases, and financial dealings, increasing their exposure to cybersecurity risks and associated liabilities.

The best defense against cyberattacks and potential losses is preparing for a crisis – a combination of risk management and insurance protection – followed by immediate action if an incident does occur. Proactive risk management and training should be present year-round, and adjusted as needed to cover new threats.

A security-minded firm prepares staff to catch suspicious behavior in real time. Security standards should be implemented agency-wide and vulnerabilities assessed continuously. Also, information security is not just the IT team’s responsibility – it is everyone’s.

Another tip is to install malware defenses to protect against Internet threats, and only operate in password-protected networks. Make passwords hard to crack and, if possible, employ more than one level of access verification. Ensure the team has established procedures for reporting stolen mobile devices, and update passwords frequently.

Protecting client trade secrets differs from that of personally identifiable information. Trade secrets are harder to identify and manage as protection is often based on who is in the know. Intellectual property can be stored or managed in an unstructured manner. To protect your agency and clients from the loss of IP, make sure access is granted on a need-to-know basis.

Finally, consider investing in data breach coverage as it offsets unnecessary liabilities and financial losses if an incident does occur.

A cyberbreach can result in huge financial and reputational losses, and may compromise the safety of a client and its customers. When it comes to a firm’s involvement in the face of cyber loss, its key asset is upholding an agencywide standard of accountability and trust.

Parker Beauchamp is CEO of Inguard.

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