Personal information related to customers, employees and other relevant people is collected by almost all businesses today. This information is of considerable value to hackers and evidence of this is the increasing number of data breaches affecting businesses across the globe today. In the U.S, data breaches are a common occurrence. In fact, a report published in 2012 revealed that more than 50 million data breaches occurred in the United States in 2011 and of these over 50 million breaches, a third occurred at a business. This clearly indicates that businesses are at most risk of a data breach.
According to a 2013 data breach investigations report, of all the businesses that suffered a data breach in 2012, more than 60% were categorized as small businesses. Do you know the reason for this? Most small business owners think that their businesses won’t be attacked by cyber-criminals and thus are safe from threats such as malware, viruses, hackers or a cybersecurity breach. This prevents them from investing in a cybersecurity plan. Ultimately, this leads to a data breach.
If you’re a small business owner who thinks that their business is not at a risk of a cyber-attack such as a data breach, then you need to know this: regardless of its size, your business is at a risk of a security or data breach if you process customer payment information. The good news is that there are ways to prevent a data breach whether you’re a small business or a big organization. Following are 8 ways to prevent a data breach and make your business safer.
Retain Only What You Need
One of the best things you can do to prevent a data breach is reducing the volume of information you store on your systems and keeping only what you need. Also, limit the number of places where you keep your important data. By doing this, you’ll know exactly what you’ve stored and where you’ve stored it. This in turn will allow you to ensure better safety of your data.
Know the Location of Your Most Sensitive Data
According to a recent study, almost 30% of security professionals have little idea about where the sensitive data of their organization is stored. Moreover, 60% of the security professionals had limited knowledge of the location of their organization’s sensitive date. The aforementioned-numbers should be a cause of concern for businesses as knowing where the most sensitive data is located is the first step in preventing a data breach. Once you know where the most sensitive data is located, you can perform a risk assessment to find relevant solutions to shore up any security loopholes.
Never Rely on Passwords
When it comes to ensuring the safety of your data, don’t be over-reliant on passwords. Avoiding re-using passwords or trusting websites to store them securely. Instead, set-up a two-factor authentication for all your business accounts present online to increase the security of your online/virtual data.
Regulate the Use of Work Computers by Employees
Often, data breaches occur when employees transfer files to their work computers, install unauthorized software or unknowingly download viruses. Now, if you use Windows computers for your business, then you can de-authorize optical drives and USB to prevent file transfer by using the Windows Registry. If you aren’t sure how they to do this, consult an IT expert.
In addition to the above, use Microsoft Outlook for internal communication. The reason for this is that Outlook automatically prevents the download of file types that it recognizes as potentially harmful. Another important thing here is checking the strength of your employees’ passwords and getting any weak ones changed.
Educate Employees Who Operate POS Terminals
Educate employees who are handling Point of Sale (Terminals) about the practices that can make your business vulnerable to risk— and the best practices they should keep in mind to prevent it. For instance, a customer’s credit card number should never be shared via an unsecured email. It should only be sent through a private, connection that is also password-protected. Make your employees aware of these things!
Encrypt Your Data
Most data security experts will tell you that one of the most important things you can do to protect your business data stored online or on your work computers is encrypt it. A recent study from the Ponemon Institute reveals that of all the surveyed companies that lost information to a data breach, 60% were guilty of not encrypting their data. It is crucial that you encrypt your files if you want to minimize the likelihood of a network security breach and your company’s liability in case one occurs.
Thoroughly Read the Service Agreement of Your Cloud Service Provider
To meet their storage needs, most small businesses turn to affordable cloud storage providers. Unfortunately, not many business owners go through the service agreement of their cloud providers. This is a mistake you mustn’t make. By not going through and understanding the service agreement of your cloud storage provider, you inadvertently make the business vulnerable to security risks. When picking a cloud storage provider, consider a lot more than just price. To understand the salient points, read the service agreement carefully. Also, find out who’ll handle your data and who’ll have access to it.
Backup Files in Multiple Locations
Even if you find a reliable cloud storage provider, you should back up your data and files in multiples location including on a USB drive and a hard drive. This is a good additional security measure.
There you have it—the 8 best ways to prevent a data breach. Using the aforementioned-information, you can prevent a data breach and make your business more secure.
by Bobby J Davidson
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