Nowadays it is more important than ever to keep your business data safe and secure. This includes anything from marketing materials and financial records for the business to your staff’s personal details and the banking information for your customers. Protecting any data you store online is imperative to the success of your company.
Any business can suffer from a security breach, regardless of the size and it is not the easiest thing to secure data that is stored online. To help your company avoid security breaches and your secure data falling into the wrong hands, we have put together a guide with four key steps that you should follow.
Understand Properly The Data You Need To Keep Safe And The Risks
You need to take a good look at all of the data you are currently holding, from supplier details, customer information to financial data. Whatever you hold on file somewhere, take a look at it and determine just how sensitive each form of data actually is to your business. Make a record of where it is stored and how easy it might be for you to lose that data or for it to be leaked by viruses or even hackers.
Pay especially close attention to the most confidential and sensitive information you might have stored such as customer records and financial records. It is a legal obligation on your part to ensure that this information is kept secure.
It is recommended that you keep as comprehensive a record as possible that outlines exactly where this data is stored, how regularly it is accessed and by whom in your company or otherwise. This can be used to help you pinpoint any risks there may be to the data held and how it is held by your company.
Ensure Your Network Is Properly Protected
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have proper protection in place for your network from malware. This is a malicious form of software which can be used to cause damage to your systems and data, often without you having any idea it has occurred.
Put a reputable and powerful firewall in place and invest in top notch security software that does more than the firewall to protect your network against suspicious websites, identity thieves and hackers.
Select a software package that will be able to keep track of all devices and has location awareness so it can keep your employees protected regardless of the device they are using or where they are located at the time. As the number of employees in general bringing their own gadgets and handheld devices to their place of work is increasing, you need to establish a special ‘bring your own device’ scheme and implement the appropriate mobility management technologies and solutions.
Choose a security solution that will update automatically to upgrade your protection against the most current threats. Remember, you are really only as safe as the last update you made. It may be worth investing in the services of a security specialist with a core working background in the online and digital security field. Preferrably they should have insight and understanding into the needs of a small business and have a good record and experience dealing with multiple security threats.
You next need to look at exactly where you are storing the data. Many companies prefer to have one place where they store all their data and then just back it up and mirror it elsewhere so it can still be accessed safely if something happens. We recently had a chat with digital ID who are the now UK’s largest ID card company. One of their key objectives for this year is to continue to improve their internal security systems, as well as making sure all customer data continues to be secure across their internal network.
It is common sense also to fully educate your employees on why it is so vital that they do not keep confidential and sensitive data on their own devices and computers. Just one virus on one computer could cause numerous serious problems for the company’s entire network.
Consider the merits of using encryption for your most sensitive and confidential data and put security procedures in place for servers stored within your building.
Control The Use Of Data
Ensure that all of your employees only has access to the information relevant to their position or role. This will help reduce the chance of things being deleted or altered that shouldn’t. Various CRM systems and Microsoft Windows gives you the option to grant different access levels to different users.
Everyone in your company should know how to utilise security protocols such as IPSec and SSL and encrypt sensitive data before uploading it as well as transferring it in the correct way. You need to ensure that when your data is being transferred to a 3rd party that you hold on to the data as long as required and are in compliance with the legislation for data protection.
Properly Train Your Staff
On average, 80% of data lost in a company is through human errors. Training is therefore a key to avoiding this. Along with using software that features backup functions, you need to properly train your employees on the implications of sensitive documents and data being leaked and the best practices to prevent it from happening.
Explain to your workers exactly what they cannot and can use computers on the company network for, along with the applications that they should avoid downloading. Properly educate them on the kinds of emails that they should not send or open and set-up email quarantine that is accessible for suspicious-looking emails before they ever get to an inbox. Although this will mean that it takes longer for staff to retrieve emails that in the end are safe, it is better to prevent issues than trying to correct them.
You need to send your employees details about the latest versions of the software they normally use and a guide on how to download updates and newer versions.
Finally, one of the most important things you should make the time to team your staff is how to create strong passwords for themselves – ideally ones that are 8 or more characters and made up of a collection of numbers and letters. Passwords should also be changed regularly and you could make use of password managers that are secure so that staff don’t have to remember tricky passwords.
In the end, the security of data is, on some level at least, everyone’s responsibility, so you you should always make it a habit of involving your employees when it comes to creating and establishing new measures for data security.