Sunday, April 16, 2017

10 Ways to Protect and Secure Important Business Data

It’s one of those things that you may think won’t happen to you, but it could – almost overnight. If your business is feeling a bit barebones in terms of data security and protection, you need to act as soon as possible. Traditional storage solutions, like hard drives, are fine, but they’re prone to failure. They can be easily destroyed, or lost. In fact, every single week no less than 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States alone.

So, it’s time to modernise, and fast. Your businesses’ data is arguably the most important factor in your survival, and if you lose it, your company could crumble. Natural disasters, theft, fraud, property damage… there are so many ways your business could be hit. Future proofing and updating your security methods means you’ll stand a better chance at survival if the worst should happen. So, why wait.

This post will be your all-encompassing guide to protecting and securing your important business data. Of course, you may already be doing some of these, and that’s great. But for the ones you aren’t, or if you aren’t doing any at all, you should think about changing that soon.

Data encryption

Data encryption may seem hard, but it’s not. At least, not at a basic level. There are many software programs or even basic OS features that can do it for you. You can encrypt just your computer hard drive, and even smaller storage spaces like flash drives and USB sticks.

Additionally, if you like to run the business when you’re out and about, be careful. If you’re using a public wi-fi network, you could be at risk of attack. Hackers can intercept any data that’s going to or from your laptop, so take steps to protect yourself.

You can do this by setting up a web tunnel, or VPN. A VPN creates a secure connection between you and the server, meaning you can browse a lot more securely in public. You may have to pay for this service, but there are ways to get it for free too. So, whether you’re at the airport, pub or restaurant, you can check your sensitive data in peace of mind.

Data backup

It’s a sad figure, but seven out of ten small firms that suffer data loss go out of business within a year. So, to make sure this isn’t you, you need to take steps to protect and secure your data to make it harder to lose. Don’t just rely on physical storage, broaden your scope a bit! Neglecting to give your business a strong foundation is a severe mistake.

For starters, you should have multiple backups of everything. Whether you keep four hard drives or a couple of USB sticks, make sure you have copies of stuff. Using the cloud is also a great way to keep that data out of harm’s way, away from floods and other natural disasters.

You could also store your data off-site, so it’s out of the way of anyone who may want to steal it. Only you should know this location, to make it extra safe.

Outsource your IT services

Outsourcing has a slight stigma around it, for some reason. Many businesses will choose to complete their most arduous tasks in house, but this removes focus from their most important jobs. Heck, even tech-giant Apple outsources some of the most difficult work.

So what can we learn from this? Well, outsourcing frees up some of your time and resources and takes a worry off your mind. In terms of securing data, that worry is huge. If you keep all your sensitive documentation and information in one place, you risk losing it all.

Outsourcing your data backup and using the cloud will ensure that if one place becomes compromised, you’ll have another ready to go. Many IT consultants will offer this and more, so it’s worth investigating. Whether you look at or remain blissfully unaware of the benefits, outsourcing is a fix. And it’s a fix that could secure your company in the long-term.

Change your passwords frequently

Yes, your personal email password may be abc123, but that’s alright. You’re not alone. In fact, most people will have predictable passwords for a lot of their sites and accounts, and they’re so easy to guess. Under no circumstances should your business data be protected by one of these ‘easy’ passwords.

Whatever software you use or wherever your data is kept, use every security measure available to you. If you are asked for a secure question and answer, take that option. When designing a password, mix it up between uppercase, lowercase, and numbers and special characters. It should be so hard to guess that not even your partner will have an inkling. Additionally, you should make your password a minimum of ten characters. Though 12 and above is better.

And when you’ve designed this killer password, your work isn’t done. You should be changing them frequently, and each should be as complex as the last. This way, you give your sensitive data the best chance of being protected for the longest time. The longer you keep the same password, the longer you leave it open to being discovered or hacked.

Only let people who need it access certain sensitive information

The more people who know something, the less safe that something is. Just think back to high-school, when you told your best friend who your girlfriend was. Suddenly, the whole school knows and you’re embarrassed. Just me? Ok.

However, the same principal applies. Keeping tight-lipped about everything to do with your data is the best way to secure it. Don’t reveal its location, or how many backups you have. Don’t reveal what’s on that hard drive or USB stick. Don’t reveal passwords to anyone. Don’t even tell your family or children. Why would they need to know? This also extends to your employees. If Dennis in accounts doesn’t need to be aware of your customer’s date of birth, then restrict his access.

Install anti-virus software

It’s such a basic step to take, but so many people don’t bother. Don’t be one of them. Anti-virus software will do many things for the computers in your company, and they’re all beneficial. For starters, you’ll have a basic shield against trojans, worms, viruses and spyware. Your PC will also become a bit more speedy as a result.

If price is putting you off, don’t let it. There are many places to get anti-virus software for free. And these freebies are just as effective as their full-priced counterparts. If you must buy it, then you can mark it down as a business expense anyway.

Securely lock all rooms and cabinets that contain data, and have one keyholder

Every company will have an office with that one secure room. Wherever that is for you, keep it locked at all times and only have one keyholder; you. Handing out spare keys is a good way to lose them, and you never know the intentions of someone who has access to data. If you have the only key, you know for certain that the data is not at risk.

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