11 Ways to Safeguard Your Small Business Data

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While big companies or corporations are making headlines about cyber-crime, small businesses or start-ups are not far behind dealing with massive data theft disruptions. 

That’s going to make you think about how you can make your small business data safe, right?

Don’t worry! We’ll discuss that in detail but first, we’ll cover a few points on how you can manage data security, especially in a time like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Let’s dive right in! 

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It’s in the best interest of an organization to keep its information as secure as possible as transactions, databases, and internal resources are considered to be the most valuable asset. 

Why is data important for the business? 

A business would never want its sensitive data to leak into the hands of its competitors. In addition, easy access to data is needed to operate day-to-day business operations

While the big business will probably set multi-million dollar cyber defense budgets, hackers are becoming smarter and are targeting small businesses with fewer data security measures. 

Why is data safety important? 

  • The cost of repairing the damages due to the data breach is huge. This might include legal fees and repayment to the customers. 
  • The after-effects of the data mistakes can put the reputation of a company at risk. 
  • It would account for job losses as businesses can go to the verge of a shutdown. 

Table of Content

The COVID-19 Situation 

As a result of the latest pandemic, people are trapped at home and Internet accessibility has risen more than ever. Current job requirements from home have made us switch solely online for survival, and this has intensified the need for cybersecurity initiatives across the board.

While many of you may be using work-related software for the first time, it has made you more vulnerable to cybercrime. 

Increased downloading of the latest apps that help with your work could put your personal information and sensitive data at risk. One such common application is a video conference or video meeting device.

Experts have made it clear that the privacy settings should be double-checked, that only pre-invited users should be allowed to join, and that they should avoid sending a meeting link to public forums. 

The recent news of one of the most successful video meeting apps, Zoom, with a security breach, has raised a lot of concerns about its validity.

Let’s come back to the topic that we started i.e 10 ways to make your small business data safe. 

01. PC Protection and Installation of Firewall

Although it’s important to use sophisticated security software that protects your PC from threats like Trojan horses, it doesn’t provide the complete picture. 

A Firewall is a software that helps prevent threats, such as hackers and viruses, from breaking into the device first. Due to internet access, hackers, as part of unwanted traffic, are searching for weak targets in your system. 

The Firewall manages to not only identify the unwanted traffic but also block it. Therefore, keeping important data safe. 

02. Keep Your Hard Disk Safe

In this information age, losing data is equivalent to losing money especially for businesses and individuals that highly depend on data to do work.

Hard disks are one of the major storage devices used in personal computers to store data. So, keeping them safe and protecting them from potential failure should be top of your priority list if you don’t want to lose the valuable data stored on the hard disks.

Once lost, it’s usually extremely tough to recover data, and usually visiting a hard drive recovery company is the only option.

Hard disks can experience failure due to both hardware and software problems. Knowing how to keep your hard drives safe from both hardware and software problems will reduce their chances of failing and also improve their performance.

03. Safeguard Your Passwords

To login to your system and extract all the valuable information, hackers are just a password away from it. The more complex the procedure and setup of a password, the more difficult it is to crack it. 

To make a password complex, use numbers and non-standard characters within them. In addition, you’ve got to make a habit of changing them regularly. To eliminate the possibility of losing or writing a password, you can use the various resources available on the market for password managers.

Another piece of advice is to avoid giving one person access to all the passwords. To minimize the risk of a data breach, distribute them within the trusted employees. 

04. Securing Your Wireless Network

If you think that the standard encryption of your wireless network can keep you secure from attacks, you ‘re wrong. While it can keep you safe from neighbor hacking activities, hackers won’t waste more than a minute hacking your wireless network.

You need to strengthen your router by putting to use the strongest encryption. In addition, the best way to go about securing your wireless network is to disable the broadcasting function. This way hackers won’t be able to see your network in the first place. 

05. Using the Right Meeting Tools

As described earlier, you need to take extra care when it comes to using video-meeting devices. The fact that more and more organizations use video-meeting devices in this pandemic to operate their businesses has made them more vulnerable to attacks.

Here’s how you can avoid them:

  • Do educate your employees on the procedure to host safe meetings. 
  • Lock your meetings once all the participants are available. 
  • Don’t share your links on social media platforms. 
  • Make sure your meeting is protected by a password and use the latest version of the software. 

06. Always Backup Your Data

The first step of creating a Data Recovery Plan ( DRP) is to have your data backup. It’ll make sure the company is able to cope with the worst possible situation. 

Simply put, even if something goes wrong with your important data, you’ll have your data backed up that will save you a lot from all the trouble.

For this to implement, you should appoint your IT manager and make him/her responsible for the storage and retrieval process. 

07. Outsource Your IT

In terms of performance, experience, and reliability, the third-party IT service provider will be better off compared to the in-house IT staff. While it might not be possible for small companies to spend a fortune hiring a team of IT experts, they may outsource IT on a monthly basis.

A successful IT firm would have the best-trained security personnel to get the job done. They will have all the means to keep track of the networks and to identify threats every time. 

In reality, due to the improved efficiency of the third-party IT service provider, you can save a lot on salaries and cost fluctuations in order to make the best use of resources.

08. Regular Background Checks

While you could be planning your business to deal with external risks, the greatest threat may be positioned right under your nose. History has shown that it is an insider’s work that leads to the greatest fraud.

In terms of hiring new employees, one should always be alert and check their backgrounds before making them a part of your team. 

In addition, a little check-in of their behavior patterns or change could give a business the greatest advantage. A little nudge to your Human Resource team about this procedure can help your business save a lot of time and money. 

09. Two-Factor Authentication

All financial institutions are implementing a two-factor authentication program to keep their transactions secure and to keep records as a mere solid password is not enough.

The two-factor authentication set up does not only require your basic login information but will also require a code sent to your mobile phone. This way, access to the company’s information will be marginally restricted to hackers.

You can implement this setup for the use of business emails and business software. 

10. Providing Access to Employees

Providing access to employees with the applications and several other password-protected documents shall be subject to personal judgment and trust. Only the trusted team members should be handed these essential passwords. 

Avoid giving the admin access of your company’s website, social media account, or bank account to your employee. 

Moreover, make sure that as soon as an employee leaves the organization, you delete them as a user of all your business accounts. 

11. Automatic Software Updates

Hackers lookout for vulnerabilities in the older versions of the software. Therefore, this is where automatic software updates come in. Bots and hackers are familiar with the older versions of software and may have created hundreds of loopholes. 

The software update improves the operating system and maximizes security settings, making it more difficult for hackers to hack.

So, instead of manually updating, put the software on automatic updates. The revised framework would have a greater chance of mitigating threats. 

In addition, the personnel devices of the employees shall also be monitored and tracked. Software installed on employees’ smartphones should also be updated periodically.

Conclusion 

The current situation has made people not only rely on the internet for entertainment but also to continue making money. The motive behind the cyber attack can not be easily identified because it may be either for financial gain or for the destruction of valuable data to benefit from a competitive advantage.

Whatever the reason may be, to ensure the continued survival of your small business, you need to have appropriate safeguards in place. 

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