Data Security Essentials You Can't Afford To Ignore

As business becomes more and more centred on the digital arena, it’s becoming more important for small businesses to take data security measures. From your financial records to customer’s personal data, the smallest breach in security could mean all kinds of terrible things for your business’s future. Millions of business files are compromised every year, and the majority of them are traced back to outside sources. I’m sure you don’t want your files to be part of a worrying statistic, so it may be time to re-assess your current digital security. Here are a few security essentials for any business, regardless of industry or size.

Data Security Essentials You Can't Afford To Ignore(Wikimedia)

First and foremost, a strong firewall. This is among the most basic security measures you can have, but that doesn’t make them any less important. This will protect your professional network by monitoring and controlling any internet traffic that comes in or out of it. If any of your employees work remotely (which is pretty likely in modern businesses) then it’s important that they have firewalls too. Having this software in place will ensure you don’t lose any capital to destructive malware and cyber protection. While some firewalls may come with one or two extra features, they’re pretty much universal in how effective they are. Get one from any of the major cyber security brands, and your network will be well protected.

The next thing you should introduce at your business is a password manager. If we were to follow the expert’s guidelines, we’d have a different password for each separate account and device we use to login. As I’m sure you know, very few people stick to this rule! Most of us use only one or two passwords for all of our accounts. This poses a pretty serious security threat to your business, so make sure it doesn’t happen! There are now various tools which business owners can use to manage the passwords employees use to access important accounts. Once you’ve introduced this password manager, you can make the business as a whole even more secure with multi-factor authentication. This will require more than just a password for your employees to access certain accounts, and will greatly reduce the chance of data being stolen by hackers.

Data Security Essentials You Can't Afford To Ignore(Wikimedia)

Setting the business a fixed backup routine is also a very important step towards keeping your digital assets secure. Although all business owners try their best to protect important data, there will invariably be gaps in the net. If and when you lose some important data to a malfunction, I’m sure you don’t want to be left there panicking. Any kind of sensitive data needs to be backed up at least once a week. Businesses dealing with significantly more data should be looking to do it even more often. This can be done automatically to keep your whole company productive and active. Everything that you can’t afford to leak should be stored somewhere remote from your physical servers, or the cloud. Your most important files are probably going to be financial records, payables and receivables, word documents, spreadsheets, and HR files.

Aside from backing up anything sensitive, you can also reduce your risk by controlling access to any important data. This is one of the biggest cornerstones to smart digital asset management, and neglecting it can land you in some extremely costly trouble. Like many small business owners, you may have had a fairly relaxed attitude to outside persons using your company devices. If this is the case, then it has to change soon. Don’t let any unauthorised individuals use business devices, and think about introducing stricter limits on people’s physical access to your servers. Even when it comes to your employees, it can be a good idea to ask yourself if this person really needs access to this or that file. Furthermore, you should make it company policy that all employees get permission before they install any software on company computers.

Another important step is researching any relevant payment card industry regulations, and making sure your business is always operating within them. PCI compliance is a universal standard for any business that processes payment card transactions. So pretty much all of them! Unless you want to cut off all the business that comes in through payment cards, making sure you’re up to date with PCI rules is a must. Like many financial regulations, these are constantly changing, so unfortunately this isn’t going to be a one-off job. If you want it to really minimise the risk of a security breach as much as possible, then complying with PCI regulations needs to be an ongoing process. As hackers and cyber-crime becomes more sophisticated, businesses will have to as well!

Keeping updated POS systems will also do wonders to improve your business’s data security. At one point, covering losses from fraud rested solely with credit card companies and banks. More and more, we’re seeing that responsibility shift over to the merchant. Due to this, if you’re using any obsolete or outdated POS systems in your physical outlets, you’ll need to update them as soon as possible. EMV tech is the next thing you should look into introducing at your stores. EMV cards differ from the older versions, in that they have an embedded chip which allow account verification in a much more secure way compared to cards with magnetic strips. You may be thinking that your job is chaotic enough without having to introduce new technology at all your branches. However, pretty soon EMV systems will be a given, not an option.

After making all of these changes at your business, you’ll be left with a completely refreshed data security policy. These rules and practices will allow you to rest easy, knowing that all of your staff are taking steps to ensure all your sensitive data is well protected. Unfortunately though, your work doesn’t stop there! As I mentioned before, cyber threats are constantly evolving, and your precautions have to be too. Get a system in place for assessing and updating your security policies on a regular basis.

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