Many small business owners have likely heard by now that the Home Depot recently suffered a major data breach earlier this month that potentially left millions of the company’s customers vulnerable to having their payment data stolen. However, what they may not realize is just how far-reaching those effects could end up being.
Research into the breach has already shown where a wealth of that payment account information has wound up: The hackers responsible for the incident are selling the information to other criminals on a black-market website known as Rescator, according to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek. This was the same site that was used to sell information when Target’s data was stolen in late 2013. The list of people who need to keep a close eye on their accounts over the next several months, therefore, includes everyone who has made a purchase at Home Depot’s stores in either the U.S. or Canada since April, accounting for as many as 60 million stolen credit card numbers.
Why is this particularly problematic for small businesses?
Unfortunately, this incident may have a particularly large impact on small businesses specifically because of just how much companies of this size rely on Home Depot to make purchases they need, the report said. For instance, building and contracting companies – most of which certainly fall into the small business category – make up as much as 40 percent of sales at the supply company, and as much as 4 percent of the total customer base.
For this reason, these companies in particular are likely to have been affected, and will need to pay even closer attention to their various accounts to make sure there are no payments they don’t recognize, the report said. When such an issue is spotted, they will then need to contact the company that issued that card and let them know about the potential for fraud as soon as possible.
Owners who are likewise concerned about their own companies being hit by a data breach might want to do more to prepare themselves for such an incident. That could include significant training for employees, as well as an investment in things like increased security systems, and even a type of small business insurance coverage known as tech insurance. This will help to insulate them from the cost of remediating data breach damage, which can grow quite sizable in very short order.