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Small businesses are often unsure how to implement data security, and may not have the time or budget to do it effectively. But everybody, from private citizens to the U.S. Government, is vulnerable to clever and determined hackers. Loss of data could cost your company a great deal, including losing the trust of your customers. Here are some tips for keeping your business data more secure.
Nearly every company keeps sensitive data. Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, insurance information, and even names and addresses can be used to steal identities and commit fraud. Intellectual property such as new formulas or products can be stolen and used by your competition. Make sure that all forms of sensitive data are stored separately and get every level of protection you can provide.
In recent years several large businesses with top-of-the-line security have been hacked, including Sony and Equifax. No matter how secure your passwords, if you’re access is relatively unrestricted it won’t be hard for the same to happen to you.
Anyone who doesn’t need sensitive data to do their job should not have access to it. Privileges for granting access to others should also be restricted. Nobody outside of IT data specialists should have access to the raw data tables. Even approved employees should be using programmable interfaces that enforce restrictions. Your data solutions should also have user logs in place allowing you to track who accessed which data at what time. This is invaluable in investigating any issues.
Data encryption is the process of systematically altering the code making up the data on your device. Any device with the proper “key” will be able to decrypt and interpret your data, but an unauthorized user attempting to access your data will find nothing but strings of random letters and numbers.
All data should be encrypted. This includes not just sensitive data you keep on site, but messaging and electronic data exchange. This data can only be decrypted with a specific key, so it’s useless to outsiders even if they can steal it. Make sure you’re using data software that allows you to utilize the latest encryption standards.
A significant proportion of data breaches occur simply because of careless employees. It can help to have an expert on staff. Information assurance is the specialized practice of managing risk in the storage, processing, and sharing of business data. Your or a team member acquiring a master’s degree in information assurance, or a degree in a similar field would help to ensure that your data security is implemented consistently and effectively.
Cloud computing is viewed skeptically by some as a greater security risk. That should no longer be a concern. Cloud services has become a highly competitive field, and any reputable provider likely has more advanced security expertise than you do. Many will offer advantages like SLAs (service level agreements) and data backups.
Your business data is perhaps the most critical asset you have. Implementing these security suggestions will reduce your risks considerably.