Data Security and Your Business: How to Store Sensitive Information Safely

Are you managing a business? Regardless of the size of the business you’re running, there are areas you should pay close attention to. One of the areas that can make or break your business is data security.

For starters, poor data security can costs small businesses $200,000 in losses. Though some companies survive the impact, others end up closing shop. Not only can poor data security translate to losses, but it can also affect your brand’s name and reputation.

If consumers can’t trust you with their personal information, they may leave and move to one of your competitors. Thus, it would be best if you learned how to store sensitive information.

Continue reading below for some valuable data security tips for your business.

Revisit the Information You Have

Learning how to secure data begins with understanding what you have. This means revisiting the sensitive information that you are keeping in your business.

Take stock of the information you have in your files and computers. You need to determine the kind of information and the people who have access to it. Your goal is to establish how information moves in and around your business.

Begin by running an inventory of all your business equipment. This covers all your desktops, laptops, disks, and hard drives. If your company transitioned to a remote work setting, take stock of their home laptops as well.

When organizing an inventory, you want to group the information by type and location. You also need to identify the entry points of the information. Know which department handles customers’ private data, like credit card information.

Consider Scaling Down

Sometimes, the reason businesses fail is because they have poor data management. Consider scaling down by keeping only the information that you need.

For example, it is not wise to keep the credit card information of your clients if you don’t have any business need to do so. This means you should discard the expiration dates and account numbers if there’s no reason to keep them. The problem with storing them is that you’re exposing the information to data breaches.

Because of poor data security, hackers can infiltrate your business’ computer systems. Once they get to your valuable data, they can steal your clients’ personal information. Thereafter, they can use it to commit identity theft.

If you’re keeping Social Security numbers, make sure to use them only if the law requires them. This means you can only use them to report the taxes of your workers. Hence, you cannot use their Social Security numbers as identification numbers.

The same thing also applies to the Social Security numbers of your clients. Revisit the settings of your software that reads the credit card details of your customers. Check if the software stores customer information permanently.

If so, tweak the settings, so it doesn’t keep the information to perpetuity. In case you need to keep client information, make sure to develop a retention policy.

Implement Top-notch Password Management

As basic as it is, using passwords is still one of the most effective data security ideas you need to practice. Moreover, you need to learn how to manage your passwords if you want to stay a step ahead of hackers.

Begin by instructing all employees to use strong passwords. These passwords should not be short. They should feature a mix of numbers, characters, and letters.

Furthermore, every employee should use a different user name and password. They should also change their passwords once a month.

Effective password management is a culture that you need to build. Thus, instill the practice of not sharing their passwords with anyone in the company. Employees shouldn’t post their passwords on their desktops or workstations.

If you’re installing any new software, make sure to change its default password. Replace it with a stronger one using a mix of letters, numbers, and characters.

Since data security is paramount, lock out users who fail to input the correct passwords. Finally, educate your workers about the value of password management.

Caution them not to share sensitive information. These include their like passwords, Security Numbers, and other personal details through email. Using unencrypted email increases the risk of compromising sensitive information.

Boost Your Physical and General Network Security

Even if some businesses migrate to the cloud, it is still a must to boost the physical security of your company. Sensitive information can still end up in the hands of the wrong people the old-fashioned way. Evildoers can still try to get valuable information by stealing physical documents.

Thus, you need to store these documents in a locked file cabinet or storage room. The same thing goes for your tapes, CDs, hard drives, and disk drives. When it comes to access to these storage rooms, consider limiting it to a few people.

Implement strict rules when it comes to accessing these files. None of your employees should access these files unless they’re working on them.

Educate your workers to be vigilant in storing their documents. No one should leave sensitive documents lying on their desks. Instead, they should store and lock these documents whenever they’re away.

The same thing goes for their desktops, file cabinets, and office doors. It would help if you also educated your employees on what to do should they see someone snooping around the office. They should know what to do and who to coordinate with regarding the incident.

If they need to send out sensitive documents via courier, they need to keep an inventory of the document. Moreover, they need to encrypt the information. It also helps using a courier that offers real-time tracking of the parcel.

Implement Wise Cloud Storage Practices

As we mentioned earlier, more companies are migrating their data to the cloud. Storing files in the cloud is one of the best ways of securing sensitive data. For starters, the cloud gives you another reliable option for backing up your files.

This is crucial in case the hard drives fail. Another advantage of cloud storage is that you get many options to choose from. One of the most popular options is Dropbox, which also comes with data encryption.

This means hackers must first break down the encryption to access your files. Most of today’s cloud storage options use an encoding technique. Here, they encode the data of every user using a specific encryption key.

Without this key, the files will look like meaningless words to unauthorized persons. As for the key storage, either the individual or the service provider can hold it.

However, keep in mind that cloud storage is not 100% foolproof. The files that you migrate to the cloud are not completely private. If another person knows your login credentials, you can no longer protect your files.

If you want something more reliable, consider using Amazon S3 storage. It supports multiple compliance and security certifications to deliver remarkable security. You only have to deal with these costs to ensure you’re getting the right plan for your business.

Regular Software Updates

Updating your software is one of the most basic practices in data protection. Unfortunately, some businesses fail to do so on a regular basis. In turn, cyber-criminals take advantage of the lapse and attack.

Thus, make sure you’re using the latest security updates for your desktops and laptops. You also need to update your phone’s security system too.

It is best for your laptop and computers to turn on the Automatic Updates of your operating system. You also want to use browsers that give automatic regular security updates.

Perform Regular Backups

Last but not least, you need to back up your data on a regular basis. Though 90% of companies back up their data, only 41% do so every day. With the cunning strategies of cyber-criminals, they can attack anytime they want.

Moreover, they only need a minor security lapse to compromise your data. If you don’t back up your data every day, you can lose a lot of sensitive information in almost no time at all.

Thus, use a cyber-protection strategy that includes daily data backup. Furthermore, you want to back up your data multiple times within the day.

Additionally, practice making three copies of your data. The first will serve as your primary copy, while the other two will serve as backups. As for the latter, store them in two different storage options.

Go Beyond Data Security

Now that you know the value of data security for your business, your next step is to invest in dependable data storage solutions. You should also implement the best practices in data storage in your company.

However, learning how to secure information is not the only thing that matters. We invite you to check our other articles. We discuss topics that will help improve your company’s data management.



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