Running a business in today’s world comes with its own unique set of complexities. To remain competitive, you must have some type of online presence. Of course, this means exposing your data in ways that were not a problem just a few short decades ago. Fortunately, just as there are problems, there are also solutions to address them.
Here are 5 ways to keep your business data safe.
1. Take Care of Your Devices
Taking care of your devices means keeping them clean and ensuring that they run properly. Make sure you have the latest operating system and use reputable browsers, as well as the latest security software. Keep in mind that the best programs are already designed to protect their users from known risks, provided they’re updated regularly.
On a related note, don’t forget that malicious software can cause tremendous damage to unprotected machines and data. If it gets into your system, it can damage both your business and your reputation. Think of a firewall as your first line of defense and be sure to keep it on at all times.
Comprehensive security software is also needed to protect your devices. The best products protect you not only from viruses, but also from suspicious websites, hacking attempts and identity theft. It’s also a good idea to invest in anti-spam software to protect you from phishing attempts that may be aimed directly at your business.
2. Maintain a Secure Network
As important as it is to have protection from firewalls and anti-virus software, keep in mind that cyber-criminals are constantly on the lookout for new ways to infiltrate computer systems. Always make sure you’ve downloaded the latest updates and keep up with the latest alerts, so you’ll know what’s going on, what to be aware of, and if there are any updates you might need. Check to make sure your spam filters are enabled and properly configured.
Don’t forget how vulnerable your Wi-Fi network can be. A business is better off having two, so the company can use one and its visitors can use the other. The one that the company uses should be encrypted with a safe password. The visitors’ network should have a different password set for it
Remember to use the strongest encryption setting available. After all, this is your business. Everything in your life depends on it and on keeping its data safe. Hackers and other cybercriminals are merciless and couldn’t care less about ruining your life through their detestable actions. Keep in mind that they can’t hack what they can’t see, so it’s a good idea to turn off your network’s broadcasting function to make it invisible to others.
3. Use Complex Passwords
Passwords might seem simple enough, but sometimes they’re all that stands between your data and those who are trying to get their hands on it. The more complex your passwords are, the less likely it is that anyone will figure them out. Try to create passwords that are at least 8 characters long and don’t forget to incorporate numbers and symbols, so they’re even harder to guess. You also need to change them frequently, so you won’t have to use the same ones long enough for someone to crack them.
The biggest problem people have with passwords is that they’re hard to remember. This is where password managers come in handy. For example, password managers like LastPass and Dashlane help you come up with complex passwords without doing the work yourself. All you have to remember is the master password that logs you into the service and it will save all of your other ones. You’ll even get reminders to change your passwords when they’ve been used too frequently. When it does come time to change them, both services will can compose complex passwords for you, saving you the time and effort.
On a related note, be careful who you make these passwords available to. For one thing, you should be screening all your employees before hiring them. I could write an entire article about this topic alone (and maybe I will), but suffice it to say that you should be able to trust everyone on your team with information that’s critical to your operation. If you work alone, this won’t be an issue. But the minute you hire so much as a personal assistant or secretary, you’ll be putting important data into their care and this is the point at which you have to be very selective about who these people are. Remember, it’s not just your information, but also that of some of your clients, who are counting on your to guard it with your life.
4. Store Data in the Cloud
Another thing you can do to safeguard your data is to store it in the cloud. Although this practice makes some people uneasy, it’s an ideal solution. Keep in mind that if your computers or other devices become compromised, your data can still be accessed by logging in to your off-site provider from somewhere else. This makes it much easier to recover from those types of disasters than if you had the data stored on the local device that became corrupted.
There are several reasons why your data is safer in the cloud. One of them is that cloud providers have greater security available to their account holders than what you’re likely to have for your personal devices. This offers greater protection from cybercriminals that may want to steal your data. However, it also protects you from physical burglary and other risks, such as fires or natural disasters that could compromise your data. Cloud providers have fairly solid reputations so far, but you should still check to see if the vendors you’re considering offer storage backup and inquire about their liability protection policies.
5. Encrypt Your Data
If there’s one thing everyone should be doing, it’s encrypting their data. This is particularly important for e-commerce businesses that should be able to hide their customers’ data while they’re shopping, as well as while their data is being backed up. The purpose of this is to keep it from being compromised during the backup process, itself. The benefits here speak for themselves, as you can all but eliminate security breaches and protect your business from losses in both profit and credibility.
There was a time when encryption was popular among tech geeks, but relatively unknown and unused by virtually anyone else. This has changed, largely because the threat of cybercrime has grown and the availability of encryption tools has increased, making it possible to encrypt both individual files and entire email messages. Even operating systems like Windows and OS X offer some degree of encryption, though they won’t protect you from government agencies that demand access to your data.
Whether you run a large corporation or a small start-up out of your home, your business data should be kept safe to avoid costly disruptions that could put you out of business. If you’re not taking the proper measures to secure your data, you’re leaving it wide open for those with the worst of intentions. What’s important to remember is that although criminals like these can be found everywhere, there are things you can do to safeguard your data and keep it out of their hands. This will help ensure the continuity of your business and maintain the trust of your customers.