June 7, 2012

Small Business Owners – Despite Being Increasingly Targeted – Believe Data Breach Unlikely

As the number of data breaches involving smaller businesses continues to grow1, a new survey by The Hartford finds that 85 percent of small business owners believe a data breach is unlikely, and many are not implementing simple security measures to help protect their customer or employee data. 

“Most of the business owners surveyed believe they are not at risk, when in fact smaller businesses are increasingly being targeted,” said Lynn LaGram, assistant vice president of small commercial underwriting at The Hartford. “As cyber criminals set their sights on smaller firms, it is important for business owners to take proactive measures to protect data and minimize the likelihood of a breach.”

The Hartford Small Business Data Protection Survey found that business owners varied in their adoption of eight data protection “best practices” to help reduce a business’s risk of a breach:

  1. Lock and secure sensitive customer, patient or employee data  - 48 percent 
  2. Restrict employee access to sensitive data  - 79 percent 
  3. Shred and securely dispose of customer, patient or employee data - 53 percent 
  4. Use password protection and data encryption - 48 percent 
  5. Have a privacy policy - 44 percent
  6. Update systems and software on a regular basis  - 47 percent 
  7. Use firewalls to control access and lock-out hackers  - 48 percent 
  8. Ensure that remote access to their company’s network is secure  - 41 percent 

The Hartford survey also found that nearly two-thirds of business owners (61 percent) believe a data breach violates trust and would jeopardize their relationships with customers, patients and employees. More than a third (38 percent) say they have a more negative opinion of companies that have recently experienced a breach, based on the companies’ handling of the breach.

About a third of business owners (34 percent) say they would have difficulty complying with government notification requirements, and nearly half (47 percent) acknowledge it would be impossible for a small business to completely safeguard customer, patient or employee data.

“Given the potential business and reputational costs of a data breach, it’s also important for business owners to have insurance in place to help them respond and recover quickly and effectively in the event of a breach,” said LaGram.

The Hartford offers information and resources for small businesses about data breach protection at www.hartforddatabreach.com.

About the Survey

The Hartford Small Business Data Protection Survey of 501 U.S. small business owners with fewer than 50 employees was developed by The Hartford and fielded by The Pert Group in January 2012. Margin of error is +/- 4 percent.

About The Hartford 

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: HIG) is a leading provider of insurance and wealth management services for millions of consumers and businesses worldwide. The Hartford is consistently recognized for its superior service, its sustainability efforts and as one of the world's most ethical companies. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at www.thehartford.com. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheHartford. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheHartford.


Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially.  Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ.  These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our 2011 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.


1Verizon 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report, Table 2: "Organizational size by number of breaches (number of employees)"


Media Contact:

Pamela Rekow