A common problem that most small business owners suffer from is securing their data. Read on to find out about 10 data security tips:
1. Identification of sensitive data.
The first step is to identify which data is sensitive. Examples of such data are financial records, credit card details, and employee personal information. Wherever this data is stored, be it servers, laptops, or computers, it should be made secure to protect against theft.
2. Control over access to data.
Small business owners should retain control over their data. It is not advisable to give complete access to even the dedicated IT security professional. They should keep track who is using data and when it is being accessed. In this way, if data is missing or compromised, it can be tracked to the source of the breach.
By restricting access to company data, small business owners can also protect themselves against unintentional revealing of data via social media or personal mobile devices.
3. Do not overlook data in mobile phones.
More and more people are bringing in mobile devices into the workplace. Thus, employees have a tendency to use them for both work and personal purposes. Usually, there isn’t enough security on their devices to prevent theft of data. One way that small business owners can prevent their information from being stolen is to implement strict mobile device usage policies. Another way is to use secure applications. A third way is to use visualization technology that divides the mobile device into two components – which are separate and secure.
4. Consider cloud storage options.
Cloud storage is actually a feasible option for small business owners. Although this form of storage has come in under attack for security leak reasons, it is not as dangerous as keeping data on systems in the office. Ensure that the agreement between your company and your cloud provider is robust. This will minimize the chances of sensitive data being stolen. An additional advantage is that you will never lose your data, even in the case of a disaster, because there will always be a back-up option.
5. Use encryption codes for safety.
If you want to keep data onsite, you can use encryption software to discourage theft. Encryption services are offered by many databases, applications, and security suites. Thus, even if your data is stolen, it cannot be readily compromised.
6. Hire a dedicated IT security professional.
Small business owners are better off hiring a professional who can handle issues of compliance and security. However, it is essential to conduct some research before hiring a person. Stealing in-house data is considered to be one of the biggest problems for small business owners. A thorough check of the potential employee’s background and references should be done.
7. Control the downloading of data.
Downloading data that contains spyware could be the undoing of small business owners. One way to get around this problem is to put strict controls around the downloading of any sort of data. In the long-term, small businesses can cultivate a corporate culture of security. They can educate their employees about their respective roles and caution them against downloading data from just anywhere. They should also be explained the value of downloading applications and software from respectable websites.
8. Dispose of paper documents with care.
Since everything is digital nowadays, it is easy to forget that paper documents exist. However, small business owners should bear in mind that sensitive information such as credit card statements, personal information, or other types of data can be scavenged from dustbins and recycling machines. They should always use a paper shredder after transferring the information into a digital format. It is best to employ a professional shredding company to dispose of sensitive paper documents.
9. Make your Internet secure.
Small business owners resort to the easiest way of conducting business transactions – through wireless networks. However, the problem is that these networks are easy to attack if they are left unsecured. Small businesses should ensure that their wireless network has a strong password, and they should use WPA2 encryption instead of WEP.
10. Regularly update passwords.
It is imperative that small business owners change their passwords often to prevent security lapses. At regular intervals, they should check all the passwords used in their systems and change the ones that are weak or have been in use for a long time. Ideally, they should change their passwords once every few months. This is especially important if they have employees leaving the company or if they avail the services of a third-party IT service provider.