Data is regarded as the prime asset for any organization as it drives the organization’s productivity. Security of data is a major concern for any businesses relying on outsourcing solutions or services for data entry, document conversion, and other tasks. With information technology advancing at a higher pace, data threat is also increasing posing high security risks for business entities. Whether it is occurring at a huge corporation or the newest start-up on the block, web threats and data theft can cause massive disruptions to any business’ day-to-day operations.
With an increasing number of cyber threats, data breaches and invasion of private personal data, organizations must recognize the new and evolving international privacy and security regulations. Breach of sensitive information carry civil and criminal penalties and may invite class action law suits. Therefore, a proactive approach is crucial to tackle cyber security problems. Without proper security and appropriate procedures in place, businesses leave themselves open to the consequences of such attacks, which could be irreparable.
In today’s world, businesses are increasingly being data driven. If the target group of customers are going to hand over their sensitive information or feel safe enough to interact with a business website and provide personal data, it is important to ensure that the data entrusted is in good hands. Investing in the right data security methods is essential to ensure business continuity. Here discussed are some important tips that businesses can consider to keep their data safe and secure –
- Have a Proper Strategy in Place – Rather than having a vague idea of policy and procedures, businesses of all sizes need to have a formal IT security strategy that is detailed and exhaustive. The strategy should provide clear guidelines on how to protect data and resources.
- Protect the Data itself, Not Just the Perimeter – Concentrating on securing the walls around the data seems to be the focus in many organizations, with almost 90 percent of security budgets spent on firewall technology. However, there are several potential ways to avoid a firewall; including through customers, suppliers and employees. All of these people have the ability to bypass exterior cyber-security and misuse sensitive data. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the security efforts are focused around the data itself, not just the perimeter.
- Pay Attention to Insider Threats – It is easy to visualize threats originating from outside a business organization. However, the reality is that it’s the insider threats that can potentially affect the security aspect. Due to their nature, insider attacks can be difficult to detect and prevent. For instance, an employee clicking on an email attachment they believe to have come from a trusted source and releasing a ransomware worm. These kinds of threats are the most prevalent across the world and the most costly.
- Protect Against Malware – Avoid data threats by securing PCs and network against malware. Malicious software can cause massive data damage. Therefore, it is essential to protect data from malware through the following –
- Apply the Firewall – Router’s on-board firewall provides the first line of protection, so turn it on.
- PC Protection – Sophisticated security software protects without compromising the performance of the system or network. Look for protection that can deal with identity theft, suspect websites, and hacking.
- Keep Emails Clean – Anti -spam software protects against unwanted emails, which can create risks and distractions for employees. Stop them in their tracks with the necessary precautions.
- Encrypt All Devices – Data encryption is an effective security measure, which uses an encryption key and an algorithm to create a ciphertext. This cipher text is stored in the database and remains safe from outside attackers. Nowadays, more people choose to work on mobile or personal devices. Ensuring the security of these devices is crucial. Make sure that all data is stored in an encrypted format and remains encrypted during migrations.
- Keep Wireless Network Secure – If your company has a wireless network, then hackers are waiting to pounce on it without warning. Strengthen your router by using the strongest encryption setting you can to protect your business, and turn off the broadcasting function to make the network invisible. As far as hackers are concerned, they can’t hack what they can’t actually see.
- Safeguard Passwords – Many organizations still rely on employing relaxed password policies, leading to simple and easy-to-hack passwords for critical accounts, which have access to the sensitive and valuable data. Implementing strong passwords is the first step you can take to strengthen data security. The more complex the password, the more protection it can provide. Implement passwords at least eight characters long, and embed numbers and other non-standard characters within them, so they can’t be easily guessed. Use reasonably complex passwords and change them at least every 90 days. Never use passwords like “12345” or “Admin1”, but use combinations of seemingly random letters, numbers and special characters. In addition, never ever write down the passwords or leave them on your workstation for other people to find. This is where password managers come into use, which means employees don’t have to worry about remembering passwords and don’t need to create risk while writing them down.
- Access Control – Restrict information access by instilling strict protection measures. Put in place a robust authentication mechanism for the entire business infrastructure. Create separate accounts for employees and be careful about who has administrative privileges. Incorporating these access controls allows to clearly monitor who uses the network. Ensure that devices have protection, including passwords.
- Create a Plan for Personal Devices – When it comes to small-to-medium sized businesses, it is important to remain abreast of the security risks associated with employees bringing and using their own devices. Create a plan for the practice to provide protection against legal repercussions and mobile system costs. A clear, comprehensive policy covering pertinent data deletion, location tracking, and internet monitoring issues can be very valuable. In addition, businesses should also plan to make proper provision for employees who work remotely or use their own devices as part of their roles. While these practices can definitely increase productivity and reduce overheads, they can also introduce new security concerns (if not properly managed).
- Set up Automatic Software Updates – Hackers may scan a network or website to identify which specific version of software it is currently running on to make it easier for them to exploit the hidden vulnerabilities of older versions. Make sure the computer system is properly patched and updated as this is often the best way to ensure it’s adequately protected. Updating device security settings, operating systems and other software to their latest versions can prevent this from happening. Set any patches and improvements to automatically update in the background to further safeguard against potential threats.
- Back-up Your Data Regularly – Creating regular back-up for data is a crucial part of IT strategy. Data backups can help prevent everything from accidental file deletion to a complete ransomware lockdown. As a security best practice, backup data should be stored in a secure, remote location away from your primary place of business.
- Create a Company-wide Security Mindset – Ensuring security of business-related data is everyone’s job and not limited to just a handful of employees in the IT team. IT administrators must periodically remind the managers and employees that they must not share log in information with any outside party.
- Delete Redundant Data – Many business organizations deal with sensitive information as part of their day-to-day business operations. Creating an appropriate information disposal mechanism to dispose of data which is no longer required is a critical factor in reducing the risk of a security breach. Ensuring that reused devices and storage media have had their contents properly removed will ensure that confidential company data can’t be retrieved further down the line – and won’t fall into the wrong hands. Organizations should look to implement a sound data destruction policy which outlines the protocol for each use case (computers, phones, external hard drives and flash memory) – whether these devices are being redistributed within the business or discarded at the end of their lifecycles.
- Use the Cloud Service – If a business organization doesn’t have the time or expertise to stay on top of all the security issues updates requiring attention, then looking at a cloud service provider would be a better choice. A reputable cloud provider will be able to store data, maintain software patches and implement security.
- Educate and Train Employees – Generally, many data breaches or data security issues occur due to internal mistakes. Therefore, it is important to make sure everyone dealing with the business clearly understand the company security policy. If employees are not trained correctly, they could accidentally share encrypted data or delete key information.
The data security of a business should not just fall to your IT department alone; there are things that every single person in the company should know and be properly trained about. Incorporate an incident response strategy plan that outlines what to do in the event an attack occurs. A good plan should also include IT disaster recovery services. Communicate the strategy to the staff so that they know how to react when the time comes. Always make sure that the current team is well-versed or trained in proper procedures with regard to data encryption within their departments. Furthermore, every new employee should undergo vigorous training to become well-versed regarding the company’s data security policies.
Data breaches continue to make big news and target many business organizations. Every organization should constantly focus on preventing, detecting, and having the right capabilities in place to respond to data security incidents. Consider the above-mentioned tips to effectively improve data security and prevent data breaches and misuse. Special care must be taken when utilizing data entry services from a third-party provider, as well as when using other external solutions.