Data is the new-age currency and needs to be safeguarded from falling into the wrong hands. Doing so is crucial to protect your sensitive business-critical information as well as your public reputation.
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure data security.
1. Educate Employees about Security Practices
According to Statista, “Over 80 percent of respondent enterprise representatives stated that they believed the weakest link in their organization’s data security was their own employees or users.”
Large organizations educate their employees about compliance regulations and cybersecurity policies through training and providing clear guidelines to employees who handle sensitive data.
Small and medium businesses need to follow suit to keep their data secure. This can be done either with data loss prevention software or with the help of a reliable MSP, who can provide businesses with customized solutions that restrict data access, thereby thwarting breach attempts.
2. Stay Current with Cybersecurity Issues
Staying updated on the latest and evolving forms of cyber threats can go a long way in keeping your data safe. Whether it is social engineering or deep faking tactics, you should know about all the potential threats and be prepared to mitigate them.
Installing cybersecurity software can help protect businesses from malware, ransomware, phishing, and other online threats. While the free versions provide basic protection, you should consider going for paid applications that can secure not only your network but also your devices.
Think of it as an investment as a data breach is sure to cost you much more than preventive software and services.
3. Fortify Your Data Fortress
Scammers and hackers know exactly how to sneak in through the gaps in your network security and attack your systems. They can also send malware through emails and steal information, hack into your webcam, or determine passwords. Hence, you need to turn your network into a data fortress with the following steps:
- Install firewalls as an extra layer of security that blocks external, malicious programs from gaining access to your devices and data.
- Update your antivirus and anti-malware software as soon as they are rolled out.
- Use two-factor authentication to create a second screening factor for authenticating access to data.
- Block your webcam and microphones when not in use as hackers can gain control of these and use them without your knowledge.
4. Have a Response Plan in Place for Data Breach
A response plan can bail you out in worst-case scenarios as it will mention in detail how to respond to security incidents. This can be the difference between negligible data loss and a full-fledged breach.
Your plan should include guidelines for:
- Plugging security gaps and shutting down compromised computers and programs immediately.
- Notifying the appropriate parties, such as the cybersecurity officials and customers.
- Conducting an internal investigation to identify and close vulnerabilities. You can hire cyber security consulting agency for this.
5. Set Internal Controls to Prevent Employee Fraud
While you may wholeheartedly trust your employees, it is always prudent to implement internal controls to limit employee fraud risks. Incidents of employees misusing company resources or stealing client information aren’t unheard of.
It is a good idea to limit each employee’s access to the information they need to do their job. Your systems should log the information that each employee accesses. You should make sure that duties are divided in a way that a single employee does not have access to too much sensitive information at any point of time.
6. Create a BYOD Policy
While the BYOD trend has helped businesses enhance their productivity, it has also made company networks, systems, and data more vulnerable to threats. This is why having a strong BYOD policy can pay off.
Make sure to follow stringent security regulations when allowing employees to use their personal devices in the workplace. Security measures such as software installation, updates, and customized configurations should be put in place. Timely and adequate support for maintenance and troubleshooting should also be facilitated.
7. Keep Wireless Network Secure
Safeguarding your wireless network from the clutches of hackers by strengthening your browser can contribute towards securing your data. Use the strongest encryption settings to protect your data. Make it a point to turn off the broadcasting setting to make your network invisible. What hackers cannot see, they cannot hack!
8. Protect Passwords
This may seem like the basic, but employees often use weak, easy-to-break passwords on their system, leading to its compromise. It is crucial to ensure optimal password security by training employees on how to set a password that is long enough and contains numbers and characters. Password management software such as Zoho Vault or Dashline 4 can also be helpful.
9. Backup Everything
Apart from theft and duplication, data breaches can be the result of network crashes or loss of a device. You may end up losing the data your business depends on. Hence, it is important to have backup protocols for all business data. It is best to implement encryption all throughout.
10. Move to the Cloud
If your business doesn’t have the expertise to look after security updates, you may want to consider moving to the cloud. Most reliable cloud providers are capable of storing data securely while maintaining software patches regularly.
11. Dispose of Data and Tech Safely
It is important to safely dispose of data and technology so it doesn’t land in the hands of cybercriminals. From removing contents properly to overwriting deleted data multiple times, you can take several steps to ensure this. You should implement a sound data destruction policy that clearly outlines the protocol for usage, redistribution, and discarding.
Don’t forget to remove unwanted/old data from cloud backups as well. When disposing of an old hard drive, make sure it unreadable by wiping it clean, running a magnet over it, shredding it, or simply by destroying it completely.
It is in your business’s best interests to take cybersecurity and data protection seriously and proactively plan to protect your networks, systems, devices, data centers, and employees. The above-mentioned methods are just a few of the many measures you should take in this regard.