Maintaining data security is an integral part of running a small business, especially in today’s technology driven world. It’s important not assume that your business is unlikely to face a server meltdown or be victim to some sort of malware attack. If your business has computer terminals that store sensitive information as well as connect to the internet, then they can be vulnerable. You must realize there is significant responsibilities involved in storing such data and making that data secure.
Here are a few simple tips that you can use to protect and secure your business data…
- Perform a security audit: The first step is to determine what parts of your business can be vulnerable to a cyber-attack as well as what sensitive data needs to be protected. It is vital that you conduct a professional audit of your business IT Infrastructure, this includes – computers, networks, mobile devices, servers, shared storage drives, and sensitive data. This is to determine what needs to be done to prevent hackers from accessing your network as well as setting up necessary backups for valuable data.
- Preventing human error: Although in most cases loss of important business data usually arises from a breach in internet security or malfunctioning hardware, the causes usually include a degree of human error. It is key to understand the risks your business data may be exposed to when it is stored on computers or servers, but you must also make sure that your employees also understand these risks. The employees are usually the front line of defence, vigilant employees that follow necessary measures to secure and backup data can help ensure that your business data is protected. Setting up a data security policy within your organization can help.
- Reduce using traditional physical media: It is important that the media used to backup your data is reliable. This can mean moving away from the traditional physical media that you use, such as data tapes, CD’s and DVD’s. One reason is that they are easily perishable, a scratched DVD or failed hard drive can result in your data being irrecoverable. USB pen drives, external hard drives and Discs can also be easily stolen or misplace which can result in the data falling into the wrong hands. If you are using physical media then it is vital to consider encrypting the data stored.
- Backup your data:Yes, security is very important in protecting your data, but a data backup is just as important. If you do not backup your data you will lose it, make sure that your data is backed up regularly and test the backup to ensure that it is available to recover when needed. With the boom of cloud services, companies are now starting to backup their important data straight to the cloud, this prevents the use of unnecessary physical media further preventing the exposure to data loss. This backup can be to a third party secure cloud storage provider or to your own company servers. Backing up your business data to a cloud also makes it readily available even remotely.
- Data encryption: When backing up data, whether it be to a cloud server, local hard drive, or even to basic physical media – It is important to always encrypt your data. This will prevent the data from being readily accessible or readable even if it does get lost or stolen.
- Using the right passwords: Many people use simple passwords and sometimes even the same password across different user accounts; this is especially common in the work environment. Having simple passwords and using the same one across your different user accounts can increase your risk of getting hacked. Hackers can use a ‘dictionary attack’ to identify your password using an automated script. If you have used the same password across different user accounts, one account being breached would mean all the others getting breached too. Use complex passwords with upper-case letters and numbers so they are harder to crack, try not to write them down too.