iStock_000012767009XSmallDuring the busiest shopping days of 2013, Target announced that their computer systems had been hacked between November 27 and December 17. About 40 million customers were affected by the security breach, which compromised credit card numbers, PINs, and other sensitive personal information.

While Target scrambles to investigate the breach, credit card companies get busy notifying customers, and consumers worry about their financial safety, there’s another lesson to be learned from this fiasco. Businesses everywhere, even small businesses, should take measures to be sure this type of situation does not happen to them.

Watching the mass confusion and disastrous consequences after Target’s security breach, it’s easy to see how devastating such an event could be for a smaller business. Luckily for Target, they can afford high-priced attorneys to help them out of the lawsuits which have already been threatened by consumers. The large corporation can deal with the Federal Trade Commission and any possible fines. They have a public relations team that will work to restore the brand’s reputation, and they have the capital to make amends to consumers whose privacy was violated by the breach.

A small business, on the other hand, often does not have all of those resources on tap. If their systems are hacked and sensitive customer information is stolen, the repercussions could actually be worse than those inflicted by a much larger attack like the Target event. A security breach at a small business might not affect millions of customers, but a small business usually isn’t financially capable of recovering as quickly and thoroughly as Target. Once a small business reputation is damaged, it’s extremely hard to regain consumer trust, and the financial repercussions could cause bankruptcy.

Considering how easy it was for hackers to gain access to Target’s system, all businesses large and small should take the time to reassess their security measures. Technology changes all the time, and hackers quickly figure out new security systems. Security should be reviewed and updated regularly to stay current with the times, and keep businesses protected from financial and public relations disasters.