With millions of hackers working daily to hack systems, and with employees accessing more and more confidential client data, there is no known way to guarantee you absolutely, positively won’t have a data breach. However, your efforts to put in place good, solid best practices in security will go a long way to help you avoid hefty fines.
Here are some basic things to look at to avoid potential data breach:
- Restricted access.Who can access the confidential information you store in your business? Is this information easily accessible by everyone in your company? What is your policy about taking data out of the office on mobile devices?Small business owners may easily overlook these questions but small habits will quickly become a business culture. A simple SOP may be the lock you’ll need to prevent a breach.
- IT security and passwords.The more sensitive the data, the higher the level of security you need to keep on it. Are your passwords easy to crack? Is the data encrypted? Secured behind a strong firewall? If not, why?Cracking passwords and bypassing firewalls are the bread and butter of any hacker. While a strong password may not prevent a total data breach, it will lengthen the time needed as well as the skills of the hacker. A strong password may deter any potential breaches.
- Training.One of the biggest causes for data breaches is the human element: employees who accidentally download viruses and malware that allow hackers easy access. Do you have a data security policy? A password policy? Do you have training to help employees understand how to use e-mail and the Internet responsibly?Standard Operating Procedures are essential to provide any employee with the guidelines to work efficiently in a business. It is also a good practise for them to know what should/should not be done in the company. Training employees periodically and setting a policy to renew passwords every 3-6 months is good way to keep up with security.
- Physical security.It’s becoming more common for thieves to break into offices and steal servers, laptops and other digital devices. Additionally, paper contracts and other physical documents containing sensitive information should be locked up or scanned and encrypted.With all the concerns of cyber security, business often overlook the physical aspects of security. Information printed out or written, letters or documents sent and received but thrown without shredding, all these are bits of information that could be used by any hacker to breach security. Store any sensitive information securely or shred any that is to be discarded.
The bottom line is this: Data security is something that EVERY business is now responsible for, and not addressing this important issue has consequences that go beyond the legal aspect; it can seriously harm your reputation with clients. So be smart about this.