According to a recent survey of 501 U.S. small business owners conducted by The Pert Group for The Hartford, 85 percent of small business owners don't think they're likely to suffer a data breach -- and as a result, many are not implementing simple security measures that would help to protect customer and employee data.

"The findings show in many instances less than half of all surveyed businesses adopted best practices to reduce the risk of a successful attack," writes Threatpost's Anne Saita.

The survey found that only 48 percent of respondents lock and secure sensitive customer, patient or employee data; 79 percent restrict employee access to sensitive data; 53 percent shred and securely dispose of customer, patient or employee data; 48 percent use password protection and data encryption; 44 percent have a privacy policy; 47 percent update systems and software on a regular basis; 48 percent use firewalls to control access and lock out hackers; and only 41 percent ensure that remote access to their company's network is secure.

"Most of the business owners surveyed believe they are not at risk, when in fact smaller businesses are increasingly being targeted," Lynn LaGram, assistant vice president of small commercial underwriting at The Hartford, said in a statement. "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 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," Help Net Security reports. "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."