It’s not just the big boys like Target that are at risk of a data breach. For every high-profile case, there are hundreds of data breaches experienced by small businesses across the country.
Fortunately, there are many simple things small business owners can do to protect their sensitive customer data and their own business information.
Doing the following quick fixes will go a long way to reduce the likelihood of your organization falling victim to a data breach:
1.) Require Stronger Passwords – this will cost your organization nothing but is potentially the biggest data-lifesaver. By now you should know that “PassWord2” is not acceptable; while it’s better than “password”, it still sucks. Use an 8-12 character combination of capital and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Make sure everyone is changing his or her passwords multiple times a year.
2.) Encrypt Data – make sure data is encrypted on every device used to access company data (computers, mobile devices, laptops, etc.). Phones get lost, tablets get stolen – if your employees are bringing secondary devices to work, make sure you have an encryption process in place.
3.) Get a Security Audit – if you don’t have an IT team, and you’ve never had a security audit, spend the money to hire a tech professional to evaluate your company’s network situation. They will be able to identify any weak points and make recommendations on how to be less at risk. It probably won’t be your cheapest expense of the year but we promise you, it will be worth it. According to a recent study, the average cost of corporate data breach is $3.5 million.
4.) Back Up Important Data – you should also know this one by now. Backing up your data ensures that information can be recovered if lost or stolen. Regularly backing up data means less headaches down the road when a computer failure happens or data is stolen from a USB drive, as you will easily be able to recover important documents or information. In 2014, this can be done pretty much for free via services like Dropbox and Google Drive.
5.) Surf Smarter – again, it is THE YEAR 2014, learn from the frequent digital mistakes of the past decade. Be wary of email attachments and links, don’t download anything from an unknown source, and if it looks sketchy – it probably is.
6.) Train Employees Better – make sure anyone who your organization hires understands the importance of data security. Most employees who bring in a virus on their personal device, or fail to spot a hacking ploy do so by accident – they simply aren’t aware that their actions are contributing to weak security. Thoroughly educate employees on the strategies in this guide and continue to keep them up to speed on the latest security procedures. Be sure to implement policies concerning how company members access and secure company information.