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How To Improve Data Security For Small Businesses
Securing any private information or sensitive data you may have on your clients and customers is absolutely critical to the welfare and success of your small business.
Many independently owned businesses are utterly unprepared for some of the schemes that hackers and other cybercriminals employ to collect data from their systems, nor are they equipped to tackle the fallout of such an occurrence. Many times, small businesses unwisely assume that they won’t be as prominent of a target, so they’re disinclined to spend a chunk of their IT budget on cybersecurity.
In reality, small businesses are often a more favorable target to hackers compared with larger organizations since their lack of expenditure toward cybersecurity often makes it simpler for a hacker to ply their trade.
Fortunately, providing improved data security doesn’t have to bust the budget. Independently owned businesses can make use of a number of economical yet worthwhile solutions in order to secure their client and customer data.
Here are a few data protection recommendations to take into consideration:
If You Collect The Data, You Must Protect The Data
Any time your business collects data, make sure that sensible security measures are observed in order to ensure that any personal information on your clients or employees is guarded from unauthorized access. For instance, when you’re closing a deal with a new client, it’s probably that you’re going to need to collect some of their information in order for you to be able to easily identify them as a customer in the future, communicate easily, and procure payments from them. Using a virtual data room (also called a deal room) is an ideal way to collect data from new clients, as it provides clients the capability to log into a secure portal and electronically sign documents.
Identify the Data You Possess
It’s essential to be mindful of all the personal information that you have on your customers and clients, how you’re using it, where it’s stored, and who can access it. The more you comprehend about the data that you bear on your customer and client base, the more you’ll understand why a hacker might seek these resources and the best way to shield them from cybercrime and data leaks.
Don’t Minimize the Threat
Many owners assume that larger businesses are more likely to be targeted by hackers because they tend to possess larger amounts of data. Small businesses presume that they simply don’t have anything worth going after. While it’s true that businesses of any size can become targets for data leaks, it’s the smaller businesses that actually tend to be targeted more often. When a small business becomes the victim of a cyberattack, the fallout is typically much worse for them than for a larger organization. The cost alone can put a small company out of business for good.
If You Don’t Need the Data, Don’t Collect It
Seems obvious, right? As a small business owner, it’s important to understand exactly what information you need in order to be of assistance to your clients and customers. Avoid collecting anything beyond the essentials. Think about it this way: the more valuable data you hold on your clientele, the larger a target your company might become. Avoid using personal information such as social security numbers for identifying customers. Opt instead for unique usernames and passwords. Multi-factor authentication — or, at the very least, two-step verification — is a great way to improve security by making it more difficult for hackers to access customer accounts. Contemplate auditing the data you hold on a routine basis and deleting any personal info that isn’t relevant.
Tighten Up Security Measures
Whether you’re storing customer data on physical hardware, in the cloud, or some combination of the two, having the most up-to-date security software and regularly updating your operating systems and web browsers are among the best ways to defend against malware, viruses, and other cyberthreats that could result in a data breach. Security software should always be activated to automatically update when needed. The majority of these programs are designed to automatically update in order to safeguard against known risks, which are ever-evolving as hackers continuously formulate new ideas.
Educate Your Employees
More often than not, your employees will be the ones handling the bulk of customers’ data, whether they’re entering data for a new client or looking up customer information to help resolve a problem. Consequently, all employees need to be sufficiently trained in data protection and stay current in regard to best practices for securing information, making certain that it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Scribbling down customer information on a Post-It note might seem harmless enough, but this leaves the data susceptible to being discovered and exploited.
Employees should be provided with periodic refresher training and instruction on the most recent fraud schemes and maneuvers and taught how to engage in best practices, such as how to identify and deal with questionable links in unsolicited emails and how to recognize phishing attempts, both on the internet and over the phone.
Data breaches and leaks can be a major hassle for small businesses, with many unintentionally making themselves a target by erroneously presuming that larger companies are more vulnerable. The reality is that regardless of the size of your business, keeping confidential data secure and out of the reach of cybercriminals should always be your primary obligation.
If your small business could benefit from improved data security, DataGroup Technologies can help! We can develop a security solution that’s perfectly suited to your specific needs. Give us a call today at 252.329.1382!
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