How to Protect Your Data and Make Your Business More Secure

Make Your Business More Secure

Data security has become one of the biggest problems in the digital world. The cost of the average data breach for the companies around the globe is $3.86 million. Taking a proactive approach when it comes to cybersecurity is one of the best investments a company can make.

The impact of a cyber-attack can have an enormous effect on the reputation of a business, its daily working schedule, its clients' trust, and financial plan, and can even end up with losing important customer data or a lawsuit against the company that has been breached.

Even so, small businesses have a hard time searching for cheap but effective security measures. This eventually leads to downgraded security or no protection at all. To help solve this issue, here are a few easy things you can do to make your company more secure.

» Fire up your Firewalls

The majority of routers have built-in firewall software that secures the internal network against outside breaches, but it's not always automatically turned on. It's usually named NAT (network address translation) or SPI (stateful packet inspection); in either case, turn it on and enable it in your router settings.

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But there is another firewall software that should be up and running – firewall software on your PC. Standard Windows operating systems come with such a default firewall. Turn on this one also and install another one on your PC for added protection.

Getting firewall hardware is another great way to add protection. Since it sits directly between your router and everything else, it secures every device connected to the network by scanning all incoming web traffic. This perimeter network position creates a superior layer of protection.

In other words, firewall hardware doesn’t depend upon operating systems, added software or browsers installed on the network devices. You can think of it as a gatekeeper between the internet and your company.

» Understand what data should be secured

60% of small businesses aren’t adequately prepared for possible data loss.

The first move in data protection is to learn what data is sensitive or critical for the business operations, how it is used, where it is used and stored and by whom. Run a basic security audit by identifying where a breach might occur, what effect it could have, and what data, such as employee, customer or financial data, could be compromised by such a breach.

After this, you will know what information is important and needs to be secured. Understand that not all data is equal, and some are more important with a deeper impact on your company.

With all of this, you can create an action plan for data protection with several "what if" scenarios depending on the nature of the breach. Data with greater risks will need to be properly protected, so devote more time and resources to ensure this.

Remember that this doesn’t mean that other data that was classified as less risky is to be ignored. Prioritize the security efforts according to the risk involved, and if you don’t have a legitimate business reason for keeping certain types of data, stop collecting it.

» Physical security

As the virtual space need protection, so does the physical one. Your offices, front-desk PC or the phone in your pocket. That thief won’t just steal your laptop, but also all the important data on it.

Install an alarm and physically secure access to certain rooms and hardware. To delete data from portable electronic devices, use wipe-utility software. Dispose of non-essential data in an effective way – shred all the documents instead of just throwing them in the garbage. Keep important files in locked cabinets.

Every time you leave the desk, your laptop should be blocked with a password and important files on it should be in a safe folder. This also applies for your employee laptops – each should have a lock screen installed and running while they're away from their offices. Every visitor to your company should be tracked and identified. Whenever the offices are closed, the doors and windows should be locked and fitted with an alarm.

» Employees education

Kevin Mitnick, one of the greatest hackers in history, said that companies invest millions of dollars into encryption, firewalls, and secure access devices and that this money is wasted since none of this addresses the weakest link in the security – people who use these computer systems.

Data needs to protected by all employees in the company and everyone must understand the company security policy. Make a speech about sensitive data and threats that could jeopardize it, so everyone is aware of the attacks that could happen and the tools they have to prevent them. Educate your employees about cybersecurity, either through specific security courses or by integrating such education into the staff-induction process.

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Do refreshers twice a year to bring current employees up to date about new threats and breaches. You will only need an hour of your time every now and then to explain to your employee how this security applies to their specific role and to answer any questions.

There is no such thing called an impregnable defence, but every precaution you make in your security will be another issue for potential breaches.

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Elaine Bennett

Elaine Bennett is a digital marketing specialist focused on helping startups and small businesses grow. Besides that, she's a regular contributor for Bizzmark Blog and writes hands-on articles about business and marketing, as it allows her to reach even more entrepreneurs and help them on their business journey.