5 Key Steps for your Small Business to Commit to Data Security

In one of our recent posts, we discussed data security mistakes that businesses make without even realizing it. You might have finished that post thinking, “Great, you’ve told me what not to do, but what about what I should do to keep my data safe?”

According to Ivan Verkalets of COAX Software, “2019 will be a year of information security.” With that in mind, we polled our experts about the key steps for your organization to commit to the security of your data, thus preventing leaks this year and beyond. Here were the top five most common responses:

    Data Backup

    Redundancy is an important practice when it comes to data storage, so putting a backup system in place is critical. Even better, having more than one backup will exponentially increase the safety net you have for your data, especially if you vary them in type and location. Regardless of the backups that you select, we recommend that you have a comprehensive backup and recovery strategy in place. In the case of a data loss disaster, this will ensure you will minimize costly downtime and re-gain access your data quickly and reliably. One of the fastest growing types of backups is a hybrid system, which backs up your data to an on-premise device as well as a cloud service. If one backup is compromised, you can confidently turn to the other one.

    Data Recovery

    While data recovery is never a sure thing, data recovery software and services can work miracles. Lost data due to accidental deletion? Malware attack? Hardware damage? If you have deployed data recovery services, you are covered. Whenever data is deleted from a hard drive, it doesn’t actually go away. Instead, the user’s pathway to that data is cut, but the data remains on the hard drive until it’s overwritten by new data. Data recovery software can access the hard drive to reverse this data deletion and even use forensic techniques to retrieve data from even the most damaged hard drives.

    Data recovery software is most effective when it’s already installed on your system, since you run the risk of overwriting the data you’re trying to recover by installing it after the fact. So it’s no good to wait until disaster strikes. As we’ve already mentioned, it is critical to be proactive.

    Employee Education

    IBM’s 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index found that 60 percent of all breaches are carried out by insiders, including current and former employees who—intentionally or unintentionally–take classified or proprietary information with them when they depart. most employees are not aware they are doing anything wrong when downloading proprietary work to take home, storing classified files to keep safe, bringing home a laptop or even sharing a portfolio of work done at a former company with a new employer, which may be a violation of company policy. Training your general workforce and ensuring your IT team has the appropriate cybersecurity skills can transform one of your greatest vulnerabilities into your greatest strength.

    With that in mind, organizations should redouble their efforts to build employee awareness about threats, such as phishing, and the danger of poor practices, such as using weak passwords, through cybersecurity education and training.

    Endpoint protection

    An “endpoint” is any device that connects users to your organization’s network and to the broader Internet. Examples are computers (desktop or laptop), servers, smartphones, and even certain Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Without protection, these devices can be infiltrated by hackers who then go after your data. Most computers come with an anti-malware or firewall program pre-installed. However, a comprehensive endpoint protection solution will provide much better protection and can defend against more than just your run-of-the-mill computer viruses. Additionally, implementing a mobile device management protocol and requiring multi-factor authentication for access to any devices that employees use for work purposes will provide additional layers of security.

    Keep Systems and Software Up-to-Date

    We’ve all been there—your computer or mobile device tells you there’s an update available, and you go to hit “ignore.” Afterall, you’re too busy to deal with it at the moment, right? Wrong! Those older versions of systems and software you’re using are the hackers’ easiest access points to your data. To combat this risk, it’s best to ensure your operating system and antivirus software programs are always up-to-date. Security patches and updates protect your system from malware or ransomware. Implementing a proactive patch management strategy and ensuring all systems are up-to-date, you’re erecting another additional wall to decrease your likelihood of becoming victim to an attack.

As the age-old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While all of these steps might seem overwhelming, it’s far better to face these steps now than to be apologizing to customers or other stakeholders about a data breach down the line. Or worse, apologizing to your employees for having to shut down because the costs of a data breach of destroyed your business. It’s that serious, and it’s worth the investment of time and money to protect your data. Still not sure where to start? Contact us today!