A loss of data can be a catastrophic event for a business of any kind, and when it involves customer data, you could end up in a whole heap of regularity trouble you really want to avoid. Nevertheless, these days, you don’t need a crack team of highly motivated but also highly paid IT techs to monitor and protect your data (although it helps if you can!). Instead, you can use a variety of common sense techniques that will keep your information safe and ready to retrieve if anything goes awry.
Ensure Regular And Consistent Backups
This post begins with the most apparent, easy-to-implement, but most underutilized practices to keep your data secure. Backups should be ingrained in your psyche, and you should train every employee (more on that following point) to take regular backups according to a chosen schedule. Your server backup strategy should involve various techniques, including the type of backup and how you plan to implement them. Most businesses and individuals should opt for the 3-2-1 method:
1) Have at least three copies of your data
2) Have at least two copies on site (but on different media)
3) Have at least one off-site storage like on a cloud etc
This is often touted as the most secure way to ensure your data is backed up and safe from whatever the world decides to throw at you. However, in some cases, this option might be prohibitive, and if you can only choose one, most data excerpts will advise you to opt for a reputable cloud storage provider who can do the heavy lifting for you for a fee. Moreover, you need to consider how often you will perform a backup and, if possible, set up a method to sync your data automatically without human input (you might need a specialist to set this system up correctly for you).
Train Employees On Data Security Best Practices
The weakest link in any organization is usually the human link. This can be via accident, negligence, or in some extreme cases, insider theft (emphasizing the compartmentalization point discussed next). The best way to avoid this issue is by training your staff on the best practices of handling data, informing them of what will happen if your data becomes compromised, and consistently updating them with refresher training. Larger organizations might want to consider outsourcing this process to data security companies that understand the issues facing large companies and have the ability to impart their knowledge of data security succinctly. If you are unable to afford this service, you should still teach your staff in-house and get them up to speed with how you expect them to manage data.
Limit Access To Important Data To Only Necessary Personnel
Businesses have long used compartmentalization to keep specific data on a need-to-know basis. As a result, you can rest assured that only those needing specific datasets can access them and ensure your ship remains leak-free. Furthermore, it keeps your operations running smoothly and your employees focused on the tasks they’re hired to do. For example, your marketing department doesn’t need to know the accounting numbers, but it might need access to specific contracts, leads, etc.
Use Strong Passwords And Change Them Regularly
No post about data security is complete without the requisite password section, and this post is no different! However, this is for a good reason because your passwords are often the last defense against those attempting to disrupt operations or steal information. If you are unsure about the ability of your team to use highly secure passwords and to keep them safe, you could enforce a multifactor authentication protocol and even implement the use of a physical key such as a YubiKey et al. This is also something you should teach your staff as per the previous section and ensure they change their passwords semi-regularly.
Frequently Scan Your Systems For Malware
Malware can come in various guises, but none are good. In most cases, they are relatively inert but will use computing power to perform other malicious tasks outside of stealing your data. However, other malware is explicitly built to steal, hack, destroy, encrypt, and possibly hold your data for ransom. If you want to avoid this fate, performing frequent malware scans should be part of your repertoire. You can also set up firewalls to stop employees from downloading applications containing viruses or other nasty things that could infect your systems.
Keep Software and Operating Systems Up To Date with The Latest Security Patches
This final point is arguably the most straightforward. As soon as an update to any system you use becomes available, you should set up a time to perform the update. This can be frustrating, especially when it involves downtime, but it’s also essential to patch vulnerabilities that hackers can and will take advantage of.
Preventing data loss can seem like a never-ending task because, unfortunately, it is. Nevertheless, it’s also vital if you want to preserve business operations and avoid fines and loss of brand reputation from a hack or data theft.