The rise of digital risks: protect your business with cyber insurance

It's vital for SMEs to protect their social media privacy and the data they collect from users
Diane Johnston

THE use of social media in business operations has been growing exponentially for a number of years, with Ofcom revealing Northern Ireland has had a sharp uptake of image-based social media.

Local retailers in particular are investing in online visual tools to drive growth. So it is understandable that Northern Ireland businesses are eager to be present on the same platforms as their consumers, wanting a piece of the social pie.

Within this pie, Facebook still has the largest user base within the digital world. The platform possesses over 30 million UK users, roughly half of the total population.

With 65 per cent of adults in Northern Ireland active on the site, Facebook is a powerful tool for all businesses, especially SMEs and retail companies who thrive on and value the personal connections with their customers.

For these smaller businesses, the online world allows an instant connection for not only marketing and promotions, but also establishing and nurturing customer relationships.

But like the more tangible elements of a business, social media can also come with risks attached. Facebook has revealed the slowest growth in two years and shares at an all time low after a third-party app unlawfully obtained the data of nearly 87 million users across the globe, including one million from the UK.

In light of this, along with new regulations under the GDPR, it is vital to protect your company's social media privacy and the data that you collect from users.

So what does this mean for businesses that not only use social media on a regular basis, but value it as one of their core marketing tools for their business to prosper?

Businesses both large and small need to be proactive to protect against growing cyber threats. No company is immune to a data breach. Many SMEs falsely believe that they can avoid the attention of a hacker, yet studies have shown the opposite is true.

The recent Verizon Communication's Data Breach Investigations Report reveals 72 per cent of the 855 global data breaches analysed were at companies with 100 employees or less. As larger companies take steps to secure their systems, the smaller, less secure businesses are becoming increasingly attractive targets for cyber criminals.

For an SME, the average cost of a data breach could be between £75,200 and £310,800 - a steep price to pay, not to mention the potential damage caused to both your brand and your customer relationships.

As technology becomes increasingly important to achieve successful business operations, and the GDPR promises much stricter policies and higher fines that can be incurred for lax data security, the value of a strong cyber insurance policy will continue to grow.

No matter your business's size, location or industry, the nature of the modern business world will continually expose you to cyber threats. To protect your business from the devastating fallout of a cyber-attack, it's vital that you protect yourself, your company, and your customers, with a robust cyber insurance policy.

And providing a quality of service to customers in the online world that matches that of your approach in-person makes the cyber insurance of your business a priceless investment.

:: Diane Johnston is commercial operations manager at Autoline Insurance Group.

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