Data protection is a hot topic. From the introduction of GDPR last month to new data breaches hitting big companies, there are several warnings out there to get your data security in check.
Whether you’re a large or small business, data protection is important. Taking steps to secure your data will protect your business, your reputation as well as the valuable data of your customers and clients.
Are you ready to get real about data security? Read more about some of the steps you can take to secure your data below.
Why is data security so important?
Data is a valuable commodity and keeping your data secure is a top priority for any business. When data falls into the wrong hands, there can be some serious consequences, and once it’s out there – it’s hard to recover it.
Everyone works with data. From employees’ personal details to payment details of customers and clients, businesses handle a lot of data each day. Protecting that data is in your business’ best interests to prevent rival companies and hackers from accessing data, but also to make sure that you can access your data easily.
The reputational risk for a data breach is high. Most recently, Dixons Carphone has become the latest big company to admit a data breach, following on from other high-profile breaches such as FedEx, MyHeritage and Under Armour/ MyFitnessPal in recent months. These breaches not only cost businesses money to try and rectify the damage, but the trust lost in these businesses means that they lose both loyal customers and potential new ones.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), is a term you might have heard a lot in recent months, and finally came into effect on 25 May 2018. A replacement for the former 1995 Data Protection Directive, it ensures that all data is protected by a set of minimum standards that must be adhered to. Now that’s it’s here, you need to ensure that your business is GDPR compliant.
Is it time for a data audit?
If your data protection practices haven’t been updated in a while, it could be time for a data audit. A data audit will tell answer questions such as the types and volume of data you hold, who has access to it and who uses it, how is it processed and stored and what your retention or deletion processes are.
You can bring in an independent party to carry out a data audit on your behalf, or you could make it your responsibility. Your data audit is also a good opportunity for you to check over your IT security to ensure that all of your networks, systems, and applications are up to date to uphold data protection.
A data audit is also a good opportunity to talk to your employees about data protection and to give them a refresh on how to handle data.
A data breach can happen at any time, but the more you’re prepared for it, the lower the impact could be on your business. After working out what data needs to be protected and figuring out the risks, you can put plans in place to protect it.
Educating your employees is one of the most essential steps in preventing cybercrime, as often it is basic human error which can lead to a breach. Some of the things you can do to help reduce these risks include:
- Introduce more complex password requirements
- Make sure you have firewalls in place across your networks
- Teach employees what to look for in a suspicious email.
- Hire data security specialists if you own a large business
- Ensure portable devices are encrypted
- Make employees aware of the risks involved in data breaches
- Provide out of hours support should staff be faced with a difficult IT situation outside of office hours
Preventing cybercrime should be a part of your overall technology strategy to ensure you’re up to date on defending your business from the latest threats.
Improving your data security
Taking steps to improve your data security will ensure your business has the best protection against cyber threats and will keep both your and your clients’ data safe. Some of the improvements you can make include:
Installing antivirus software
Antivirus software should be a basic requirement for your business. Choose software that has built-in spam filters and firewall protection to provide a range of defences for your company.
Update IT systems regularly
Having regular updates will ensure your business is protected against the latest threats. Don’t ignore rolling updates as they come in, and force them through if you can to make sure your employees carry them out on their equipment.
Backup your data
Backing up your data will ensure that you can recover your data as needed. Many people choose cloud-based systems to backup data, but you should also have a local system that can be accessed quickly and easily if needed.
Not all employees will need access to all data, so it makes sense to limit the amount of data that some employees receive. If your business works on a customer-level, consider using software that allows you to modify access levels according to individuals.
Access to help and information
Make sure all employees know where they can find information on data protection. Some companies make data protection a mandatory training requirement, and having one can certainly be in your business’ best interest. A portal or handbook which provides information and FAQs can also be an effective way to make employees feel empowered about data protection.
Data security isn’t something to be put off or ignored, so make sure you cross the ‘knowing – doing’ gap and get it done. Having robust IT systems in place is an important part of data compliance, so it makes sense to start with an inspection of your current systems. Protect your business by protecting its data and make sure you stay up to date on the latest data security practices.