Whether you have just opened a small business or been operating for years, you have sensitive data that needs protecting. Your small business data can include anything from client lists and marketing materials, to employee performance reviews and confidential contracts. If your business is like most smaller companies, the majority of your data is probably stored on computers in some way. This means that in order to protect your small business data, you need to think about how hackers might attack it and what preventative measures you can take to stop them. Whether they are malicious outsiders or disgruntled current employees with insider knowledge, anyone with insider access could put your company at risk. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to protect your small business data that don’t involve locking yourself in a bunker all day long!
Keep the software up to date
When you install software, the vendor will often include a feature to automatically check for updates. Keeping your software up to date is one of the most effective ways to protect your business data. Many software updates include patches for security risks and issues that currently exist in the product. If somebody finds a way to attack your business software, you may be able to close the vulnerability simply by updating the program. Using an internet-connected software, like a CRM system or a marketing automation tool, you must pay attention to update policies. When updating software, always check to see if the update will cause any loss of functionality or other problems with your business. This is especially true if you use older software that doesn’t get updated as often. If a vendor doesn’t issue updates for older software, it may be more at risk for cyberattacks.
Install a Firewall and protect your network
A firewall is a network security system designed to block unauthorized access to your business network. Depending on the level of security your business needs, you can install a firewall on your network router, server, or individual computers. Firewalls often also include security software to scan for viruses and malicious software on your network. A firewall is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your small business data. A firewall is essential for any company that uses the internet to communicate or store data in any form. This means almost every small business! Whether you store data remotely or have a website that your clients can log into, it all requires an internet connection.
Educate your employees
You might be surprised to find out how many disgruntled employees decide to wreak havoc on a workplace computer after they’ve been fired. Similarly, if you hire somebody who has malicious intentions, they might be able to access sensitive data through your company computers. This is why it is so important to educate employees about protecting the company data and using the systems responsibly. Computer policies should include guidelines for things like password strength, logging out of systems when employees take breaks, and restricting access to sensitive data for employees who don’t need to see it. Keep an eye on your computer system logs and look for any signs that somebody may be misusing the computers or accessing data they shouldn’t have access to.
Use strong passwords and lock down admin accounts
Attackers use automated software that tries millions of different passwords against different websites every single day. Even if you use strong and unique passwords for all of your systems, it wouldn’t be enough because you’d have to remember them all and log in with different passwords each time. This is why you should use a password manager to keep all your login information in one secure place that is only known to yourself and a select few others that you trust. There are many secure password managers, such as the one offered by Google Chrome, but an old-fashioned pen and paper list can also do the trick.
Back up your data frequently
Computer systems fail, and they can fail in ways that are hard to predict. You may lose data due to equipment failure or a malicious attack, or you may accidentally delete data that you need. If you don’t have a solid backup, you could lose everything, including your business continuity. Even if you follow all the other tips in this article, you still need to have a backup plan for your data. A good data backup system will include regular automatic backups of your systems so that you have a copy of your data in case you lose it.