Data breaches are an increasingly common threat to businesses, with approximately 4.1 billion records exposed just last year. Such violations pose problems for companies of all sizes, but especially for smaller organizations that may have fewer resources to protect against them — and thus may find themselves more at risk.
It’s crucial to invest in effective security, even if you’re under the impression that you don’t need to. Hackers gaining access to private information — whether it belongs to your business or your customers — is a major liability, and it’s simply not worth the risk.
Luckily, there are steps even the least tech-savvy managers can take to ensure their company’s data is safe.
One of the surest ways to avoid having your system breached is to hire IT managers who specialize in keeping hackers out. You can read up on all the best tricks to prevent breaches, but you still won’t have the same amount of knowledge as someone with years of training. Having IT staff will enable you to minimize the time you need to spend worrying about security without sacrificing on the quality of your protection.
Of course, not every company has the ability to hire employees specifically focused on preventing breaches. If you can’t bring IT experts on board, educating your current staff members on the best security practices is the next best thing. Many cyber attacks occur as the result of hackers tricking someone from a company into giving them sensitive information. Referred to as “spear phishing,” this method of getting around your firewalls can be stopped in its tracks by having employees who know what to look out for when it comes to potential breaches.
While training employees in cybersecurity, it’s also a good idea to put policies in place that will help them keep confidential information safe.
Using security software like firewalls and anti-virus software may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how easily such practices can fall to the wayside. This is especially true in regards to updating such software; even companies that do take advantage of these protections can and do forget to keep it up to date. Make sure you don’t fall into that trap.
The less confidential data you have lying around, the less you’ll need to worry about that data falling into the wrong hands. Only keep information that you absolutely need, especially when it comes to your customers. The rest you can dispose of in a safe method, such as shredding or using software to wipe data completely from your hard drive.
Certain data — like credit card numbers, for example — doesn’t need to be kept around, but you may be legally required to hold onto other information for long periods of time. There’s no way around that, but there are ways to ensure this private information remains safeguarded. For one, any physical paperwork with client information should be locked away, with only approved employees having access to those documents.
As far as digital data goes, access to such records should require multi-factor authentication (MFA). Likewise, sensitive information needs to be encrypted when sent outside the company, and all records should be backed up in case of an emergency.
Securing your organization’s data may sound like a tedious affair, but it’s well worth being able to sleep at night without worrying about waking up to a nightmare-level breach the next day. Trust us, handling the aftermath of a hack will be far more stressful and time-consuming than taking preventative measures.