By Amanda Martin
For business owners, part of the risk that is encountered daily is breach of data. It is a hazard that can easily cost you a lot of money plus the loss of your customers’ trust. There are so many ugly situations that can occur like a lawsuit if your customers’ confidential information is used or it can even go as far as shut down your company altogether.
It is up to you to ensure that your company does not fall victim to this unfortunate event. The good thing with modern technology is that you have the solution at your fingertips. You just need to learn which one to use and to maximize the protection it will give you. Here are some factors to consider on how to prevent data breach:
Protection of confidential data – Your business is home to unlimited data that come from your customers. If you are involved in providing services that incurs recurring charges, you would have access to customer’s credit card information as well. This is extremely risky and may be used by employees for fraudulent activities. In order to avoid any mishaps, ensure that file cabinets, drawers, documents and everything that has customer information is safely locked. Computers and systems that contain the same information should be monitored constantly and users are subject to audits. Once a paper or document is no longer needed, make sure that it is all shredded.
Password usage – All devices that connect to your systems should be password protected and only provide access on a need to know basis. This includes computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Have users regularly change their password and require them to use a complex combination.
Log in access – Computers inside the business premise need to have log in credentials unique to the user to facilitate monitoring of people who are accessing the information contained therein. It is also imperative that computers are locked when there is no one using it or even if the user has left for only a few minutes. Computers located in common areas should not contain sensitive information.
Data encryption – The exchange of information is essential to any business but having data encryption will minimize the risk of that data being intercepted and used for counterfeit activities. This should be done on all devices including the mobile phones issued to employees.
Security software – An anti virus or anti spyware is an expense but a worthy one. With all the cyber criminals just waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting user, it is highly important to have the best and most efficient security software for your business. If possible, have the IT department put blocks on any downloads to ensure that no risky software or application will get in and latch on to your systems.
Update OS and software – Licensed software and operating system continuously receives updates from the manufacturer and it is vital that these updates are utilized since it may be the only way to prevent certain security issues that can affect your system.
Limit remote access – With businesses shifting to personnel who can work at home or away from the office, it is all the more important to safeguard the data being exchanged back and forth. Ensure that whoever is being granted access to your system via VPN (virtual private network) knows the responsibilities that come with it. A Wi-Fi connection may be free but it is also unsafe if the connection is not a trusted one. Advise employees to avoid using a public Wi-Fi connection to communicate with the office. If they are using their own Wi-Fi network to work at home, it should utilize SSID (service set identifier) to safeguard the network from unauthorized access.
Third party access – Outsourcing certain aspects has become part of business practices nowadays but it is very important to ensure that whoever you will be working with has the necessary security measures to protect your data. It is also advisable to have an option to do a random audit on their activities. Part of the agreement or contract can be a penalty or fine if there is a breach of data while they are using your system.
Monitoring software – You should consider installing monitoring software (like this from http://www.mspy.com/) on all your mobile devices. This will give you access to all the activities of your employees on the device they are using whether it is a computer, a smartphone issued by the company, a tablet or a laptop. You just have to log in to a single account and you can monitor all the activities that utilize the information involving your business.
The importance of taking care of your data is not something to be taken lightly, especially if the existence of your business depends on it. Tell your employees how important it is to take care of all the information they are using for their job. You can include it in the company policies and have employees signed on an acknowledgement form to protect you in case of a lawsuit.