Businesses of all sizes depend on data to stay up and running efficiently. From customer records to financial details, business information is necessary for decision-making and tracking progress. Unfortunately, this makes it a primary target for cybercriminals seeking sensitive material or wanting to sabotage operations.
Despite these dangers, there are several steps you can take as a business owner that should help protect your data from being compromised. In this article, we have listed ten effective methods which you should put in place when securing your organization’s data:
1. Use alphanumerical passwords and routinely change them
You have probably heard this a thousand times before, but you need to utilize complex passwords that contain letters and numbers and change them frequently. It’s essential to create strong passwords that are hard for anyone to guess while avoiding using personal details within a company password. For maximum security, it is best practice to choose combinations of uppercase and lower-case letters along with symbols or words (e.g., t0uGhP4$&w0rD#) unrelated to make sure your passwords cannot be guessed easily by anyone who may attempt such access with a malicious intent.
In addition, setting reminders for yourself so you can change these passwords periodically will reduce the chances of potential hackers having enough time trying various logins, which might eventually unlock an account successfully, hence, putting at risk all sensitive data associated with said login credentials.
2. Ensure business networks are secure
Ensure your business network is secure by limiting access points on each device connected to it to deter potential hackers from gaining entrance into your systems; this means installing firewalls and anti-virus software on every device connected to the network.
Firewall protection is a must as it will block malicious traffic from accessing your systems, while anti-virus programs can detect and remove known threats before they become too large of an issue. Additionally, suppose any devices such as laptops or phones leave the company premises, it is best practice to have a system in place that will track any activity occurring on them and provide alerts should anything suspicious occur. This way, administrators can quickly react to possible threats without having the hassle of waiting until it’s too late.
3. Use encryption for sensitive data
It is recommended to implement encryption techniques when dealing with sensitive information; encrypting data makes them unreadable without its accompanying key, which should only be accessible by authorized personnel within the firm or appointed representatives requiring access due to their job roles. Encryption works by scrambling data so that even if someone gets hold of it, unless they possess the required decryption credentials, all confidential details remain safe from prying eyes.
4. Back up your data regularly
Back up all valuable documents regularly, so there are multiple copies stored at different locations in case anything happens, whereby some files get lost due to being accidental deletion or a cyber attack. Companies should have a secure server and backup service that backs up vital data to the cloud periodically, ensuring that information can be retrieved quickly if an unexpected incident occurs, such as natural disasters, hardware failure, etc. It is also essential to check these backups regularly to ensure they’re working correctly; otherwise, there won’t be any backup to retrieve from in the event something does happen.
5. Be careful when sharing business data online
Be careful when sharing your data online and only use a secure connection when accessing business accounts; avoid using unsecure email or social media to give out account details as the wrong person could intercept this. It is essential for businesses of any size not to fall into ‘the trap’ of broadcasting confidential information over insecure channels (which hackers can monitor easily). When exchanging sensitive information over the Internet, business dealing with sensitive data must look into technologies such as virtual private networks (VPNs) for encryption.
6. Update Internet browsers regularly
Update Internet browsers regularly for any available security patches that help protect against exploits used by cybercriminals who are looking to steal confidential information. Staying on top of browser updates will help protect against any known vulnerabilities that hackers use to gain access into networks or applications, as well as keeping your computer safe from malware threats which can cause considerable damage should they enter the system successfully. Additionally, consider avoiding the usage of outdated browsers (such as Internet Explorer) since these may not support modern security features necessary for protecting sensitive business data in an efficient manner.
7. Install anti-virus and malware protection
Install anti-virus protection programs that can detect viruses, spyware, worms, and other malware; these will stop malicious software from taking advantage of weak points in an organization’s infrastructure, thereby helping reduce significantly the risk posed by its valuable assets (data) being compromised. Anti-virus programs work on both real-time scanning and periodic basis depending on user preference, while providing users with alerts when any suspicious activities occur. The installation of such programs is an important step that should be taken in order to protect the business’s valuable data from malicious actors trying their luck on vulnerable accounts or networks belonging to said organization.
8. Educate business staff about online security
Educate employees on essential best practices so they understand why it is critical to follow security protocols. Educating staff members on the importance of protecting company data will ensure they are aware of any potential risks, and how to avoid them; this could include not clicking on suspicious links in emails or sharing confidential details over social media platforms without double-checking it first.
Additionally, remind employees that passwords should be changed regularly and to use alphanumeric combinations when creating their credentials for extra protection against unauthorized access into accounts belonging to your organization.
9. Monitor access logs
Ensure all user logins are monitored; this is important because it provides a detailed overview of who has been logging into systems and when so administrators can quickly identify any unauthorized activities. In addition to helping track suspicious behavior, monitoring login details will also provide visibility if an employee’s credentials become compromised through hacking or phishing attempts from outside sources. Also, be sure to set up alerts that inform you of any suspicious logins, giving administrators the opportunity to take action quickly in order to stop a potential cyberattack.
10. Utilize automated patch management tools
Software applications need regular updates and security patches; therefore, having an automated system for keeping software secure will go a long way towards reducing risk from malicious actors. Automated patching solutions provide businesses with simplified maintenance operations by ensuring only necessary updates are applied as soon as they become available; this prevents attackers from taking advantage of outdated vulnerabilities within systems or applications used by the organization.
While there is no guarantee that following these tips will protect your business data from all potential risks, they do provide a good foundation for improving its security. However, with the right protocols in place and by educating staff on proper procedures to follow when dealing with sensitive information, organizations can go a long way towards reducing their chances of experiencing an incident involving malicious access or theft of confidential material.