Let’s face it – in this day and age, cybersecurity is one of the most important emerging concerns for small, medium and large businesses alike. A few high-profile newsworthy examples have shed light on how important it is for organizations of all sizes to protect their virtual assets as much as their physical ones. The cost of recovering information, not to mention responding to potential legal fallout from such situations can be more than any company wants to weather.

Of course, despite best efforts, the unavoidable if unpleasant reality is that breaches do happen. In light of this, it’s a mistake for companies to take a reactive approach, thinking “it won’t happen to me.” Even if you think your business’ tech assets aren’t at risk, proactively developing a data breach response plan is quickly becoming new best practice.

Growing data collection means growing risk
It used to be that few companies maintained amounts of data that were significant enough to warrant a security risk, but recent years have seen widespread information accumulation become nearly ubiquitous. As a report from TemPositions pointed out, the more data an organization collects and stores, the greater the risk of a breach. For this reason, the source recommended that companies adhere to a simple heuristic – organizations shouldn’t collect and especially shouldn’t store any data that they don’t actually need for daily operation or compliance.

Building a plan
Prevention is a big part of cybersecurity, but savvy companies will also have an incident response plan in place as well. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, one of the cornerstones of such a plan is having an individual or team of people who have sole responsibility for data integrity, and granting them the required access to do what needs to be done in an emergency.

These people should start with risk assessment – identifying which parts of the company mainframe or servers contain the most sensitive data and therefore pose the greatest risk to security. Your business may store information ranging from the fairly innocuous – inventory assessments and marketing strategies – to the hypersensitive – things such as employee personal records and customer payment information.

It’s also important that your data protection team work closely with HR services to not just identify which bits of stored data pose the greatest legal and compliance risk, but also to develop contingencies in the event of a breach.