Data security is crucial, and not just for Fortune 500 companies, but for small businesses as well. It’s common for small business owners to think that data hackers won’t bother with a small company, but it’s typically easier for hackers to get into smaller entities’ databases that have less sophisticated security systems. In fact, according to the 2016 Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec, 62 percent of data theft victims are small to mid-sized businesses.
So how do small businesses go about protecting themselves from data hacking? Local cloud computing company Insight provides some great tips to help business owners get better security.
Have a data protection champion outside of IT.
It’s vital that every employee actively works to maintain the safety of the company’s data. Hacking, while technically a technical issue, cannot solely be treated as such. As a result, your business’s security shouldn’t rest in the hands of the IT department. IT is responsible for specs and operational issues, but they are not responsible for the behavior of the rest of the office. It’s helpful to think of data security as a company issue, rather than just a departmental issue. If every area of the company becomes an expert on how to secure its own data, the company can become better protected as a whole.
Secure your email software.
Email is the number one threat to small businesses in terms of cyberattacks and data hacking. More advanced ways of hacking into business email accounts are being uncovered daily, so it’s in your best interest to make sure that your business has top-notch email protection in place. It’s common for many small businesses to use Microsoft Office 365 for their email accounts. For these entities, Cisco Cloud Email Security is an intelligent software that constantly live-checks company emails and sends updates the second suspicious activity is detected. This program also includes secure messaging and is an excellent way to back up crucial data.
Isolate sensitive data.
As a business owner, you need to make sure you understand what types of sensitive information you have on file, as well as where that information is kept. Credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords, bank routing information, and other sensitive data should be consolidated on as few devices as possible, to keep bits and pieces from falling through security cracks—and only on devices with hefty security measures in place.
Change passwords often.
It might sound tedious, but frequently changing passwords to your business accounts is a simple way to reduce the risk of hacking. It’s recommended that passwords get updated at least every 180 days. By changing passwords often, you limit the amount of time a hacker has with a password they may have already stolen. Companies that fail to change their passwords risk data loss by allowing data hackers the ability to “eavesdrop” on the companies’ information for an unlimited amount of time. (Bonus tip: Use different passwords for different accounts. You don’t want a hacker to gain access to your bank account, your blog, and your email just by knowing your Facebook password.)
Keep anti-virus/spyware software up-to-date.
It’s good practice for small businesses to have some form of a trusted virus protection program installed on company computers. However, it’s all too common that businesses overlook outdated software. By not having updated anti-virus software, companies risk data vulnerability due to the program’s inability to fight against new data-hacking methods. Pay attention to the versions of your company’s programs, and make sure to be on the lookout for when updates become available.
Today, data makes up a significant portion of any business. These five tips will help ensure that the essence of your company is well-protected. What steps do you take to secure your business’s data? Share your thoughts in the comments below.