Data breaches, as we have all learned, can be #EpicFails with far-reaching and destructive implications for brands.
Once sensitive consumer information—payment-card data, home addresses, phone numbers—are stolen, the ramifications can include federal investigations, appearances by company execs before congressional committees, class-action lawsuits, and months of scathing headlines, all of which can precipitate a major loss of consumer trust.
“Big companies spend millions, billions of dollars building their brands over 20, 30, 40, 50, 100 years,” says Eric Chiu, president and co-founder of cloud security automation firm HyTrust. “If something bad happens, like the breach at Target, all that can be gone in one fell swoop.”
First and foremost, companies should take all possible steps to safeguard sensitive data. An ounce of prevention (translation: millions of dollars in technology upgrades and IT hires) can outweigh a pound of cure (many more millions of dollars and months of PR, social and paid-content spinning as a brand’s image threatens to go down the tubes).