In this information age, your data is worth its bytes in gold. In a 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study conducted by IBM, the average cost of a data breach in 2015 is $3.8 million! That’s a 23% increase over the results of the 2013 study and shows just how important it is more than ever to protect your data from thieves and criminals. Below are some expert tips on keeping your business’ sensitive data away from thieves.
Manage Data Storage and Access Properly
- Lock Away Paper Files or Abolish Paper Files Altogether
Your paper files are not safe even when they’re not the most updated reports you have. When your paper files are no longer needed, it’s best to shred them as soon as possible. The must-shred paper list includes extra boarding passes, luggage tags, credit offers, trip itineraries, vendor payment stubs and invoices, canceled checks, and price lists.
- Implement Data Privacy Controls in All Aspects
If you used contractors and third parties, they must have the same level of strict data control that you have. It helps to audit them using your own standards.
- Limit Access to Sensitive Data
If someone has no need to know something, then that person should not have access to that information to begin with. This prevents your data getting compromised in case of a security breach.
- Assess What Needs to be Protected
Different businesses have different needs and thus, will need different levels of data protection. Hiring an outside expert to help you audit your current protocol and assess your weaknesses. Clients and customers tend to trust businesses that have undergone outside data assessment.
Upgrade Your Technology
- Protect all Electronic Devices and Computers
Use passwords so you can easily wipe your data remotely if your gadget gets compromised.
- Enable or Install a Firewall
This prevents outsiders from getting access to your computer network.
- Encrypt Your Data
Using encryption for sensitive information protects them and should be installed on company-owned devices.
- Safeguard Your Wireless Network
Having a strong password and encryption prevents outsiders to see your network and hop on to it.
- Activate 2FA
Two-factor authentication is your extra layer of protection. Thieves can guess passwords, no matter how secure you think they are.
- Use Internet Proxy
If you’re using free internet at a café or an airport, other people can sniff out your traffic. Proxy services can prevent that from happening.
- Limit Movement of Personal Information
Information should not be transferred to a portable medium. Access should be in-house.
- Install Anti-Spyware and Anti-Virus
And don’t use free security software because they don’t often provide enough security. Make sure that your anti-spyware and anti-virus are updated regularly as well.
- Be Extra Vigilant in Protecting Sensitive Data
Regularly remove personal information from online databases, more so if no longer needed.
Get Your People Involved in Data Protection
- Make Strong Passwords a Requirement
More than 70% of all breaches are because of bad password choices or just poor management of passwords. The more complicated a password is, the better.
- Implement A ‘Clean Desk’ Policy
No papers should be on anyone’s desk or workstation if an employee is not there. Every desk should have a lockable drawer.
- Have Policies for Personal Devices
Company computers should be on a different network that’s open to outsiders and/or personal devices. Malware-infected personal devices can steal corporate information if connected to the same network.
- Have Social Media Policies
Have a restriction list of what can be shared and not shared via social media. Even an innocent brunch meeting posted on social media can cost you money if that meeting isn’t supposed to be known publicly.
- Train Employees to Recognize Smishing and Phishing
Outsiders will use social engineering techniques to gain access to your information. Some will use link baits and some will use programs that your employees can unwittingly download and infect your computers.
- Know That Mistakes Are Totally Normal
Wrong people can have access to certain files because of human error. The best thing you can do is enforce limits so that breaches and mistakes are kept nearly non-existent.
- Treat Your Employees Right
Angry or unhappy employees can be your most serious vulnerability because unhappy people get emotional and might do things that they’ll regret later on. Treating your employees with respect will minimize the likelihood of something like this from occurring.
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