Many threats to your data security exist in the modern era. From hackers to worms or even industrial espionage, threats abound. But don’t panic. There are many things you can do to improve your data security regardless of where you are based-whether it be in some central hub of the United States or elsewhere.
Although incorporating things like firewalls and antiviruses are a must, your efforts shouldn’t stop there. You need to implement a comprehensive data security strategy throughout your entire business. This includes can include many things. Here is a short list of examples:
- Improve Data Security with a Security Audit
- Incorporate Strong Passwords to Increase Data Security
- Check Your Servers and Network
- Update Software on a Regular Basis
- Back-up Your Data on a Regular Basis
- Restrict Employee’s Access Permissions
- Keep Alert
Let’s discuss a these seven simple steps in more depth.
Why Is Information Security Important?
Before we dig down into the nitty-gritty, let’s look at the reason for all this. It’s a critical question: Why is information security important?
The first and most obvious reason is that you, as a business, are legally responsible for the sensitive information you collect. A high-profile data breach is a quick way to get on the news-but for all the wrong reasons. Depending on the nature of the attack, it can even lead to legal action against you.
As lepide.com notes, “These attacks highlight the vulnerability of data and the lack of robust security strategies in organizations of all sizes.” Regardless of the size of your business, you must be prepared.
Data breaches can seriously damage your business. They can ruin your reputation, damage your customers’ trust in you, and even expose your precious trade secrets, critical financial data, and a host of other important records your business needs to keep private.
It’s definitely worth your while to do what you can to prevent such losses.
1. Improve Data Security with A Security Audit
The first question you need to answer is: what is the first step in information security? In other words, what is the first thing you need to do to implement an effective data security strategy?
As we mentioned above, if you want to improve the data security of your business, you should have a professional firm conduct a thorough security audit. Such an audit will reveal the extant weaknesses and vulnerabilities of your organization’s system.
This gives you a place to start and build from. As we mentioned, firewalls and antivirus systems are good, but they are hardly foolproof. An audit can reveal areas where those systems are weak and can stand improvement. Further, data security professionals can give you critical advice to guide your implementation of your overall data security strategy.
2. Incorporate Strong Passwords to Increase Data Security
The next step to focus on is password policy. Strong passwords are essential if you want to increase your data security. This means none of those “12345”-type passwords that are so easily hacked. A strong password uses both lowercase and uppercase letters along with numbers and symbols-preferably scrambled so as to not spell an obvious word.
Another no-no is using the same password across multiple accounts. If one is hacked, it’s a virtual guarantee that the hacker will try the password gained on all linked accounts. To prevent such things, you need to establish and enforce a password policy for your whole organization.
3. Check Your Servers and Network
Of course, you’ll need to evaluate and check not only your network, but the servers, too. You’ll want to use a high-bandwidth infrastructure. Your data is useless, if you can’t access it. And blocking up a low-bandwidth system with reams of useless information can damage your business nearly as much as hijacking the information outright.
To increase data security, you want a system that runs cleanly, quickly, and without risk of interruption. To that end, high-bandwidth is worth the investment.
4. Update Software on a Regular Basis
Another critical aspect to data security is the software you use. Old, outdated software is more easily hacked and bypassed putting you and all your data at risk. To combat this, you need to update old software when possible, and incorporate all necessary patches as they come out.
You do this for multiple reasons such as:
- To prevent hackers from accessing your data
- Prevent malware from infesting your systems
- And to just resolve bugs from earlier versions of your software
Remember, hackers and viruses both adapt and evolve with advances in software. They are always looking for weaknesses to exploit. The best way to combat that is keeping your software up to date.
5. Back-up Your Data on a Regular Basis
Another age-old good computer practice is regularly backing up your data. This will help you survive in the case of some calamity where your normal systems of data access fail you.
For example, there is a semi-common problem with Microsoft Outlook these days that is preventing outlook from opening properly. The error returned states “the information store could not be opened.” That’s your email. Do you have any critical information in your email? What do you do if you can’t access it?
The best practice solution is to back up your data (including emails) according to the 3-2-1 rule. “…you should have three different copies of your data on two types of media, as well as one copy off site, such as on the cloud.” (Forbes.com) This ensures that a technical difficulty won’t bury you.
6. Restrict Employee’s Access Permissions
According to Globalsign.com, “Organization’s should determine what an employee needs access to and ensure they have access to only what they need.” Again, this is basically a best practice-one of those information security fundamentals you can’t ignore.
Access permissions control how deeply a user can penetrate your systems and what information can extract. Maybe you trust all your employees. That’s good. But not every firm can afford to take that risk. Plus, even a trusted employee can be hacked and unwittingly provide access to sensitive data that can damage you.
It is far better to limit yourself to that kind of risk as much as you can.
7. Keep Alert
The last bit of advice we can give you is to keep alert. Try to stay on the lookout for suspicious activity whatever form it may take. Although numerous threats can come from outside your business, it is possible, and costly, for threats that come from inside your business.
These run the gamut from intentional industrial espionage to having an employee click on the wrong thing and unwittingly release some hideous virus upon your system.
So, keep alert. It’s another one of those information security fundamentals that will likely never go out of style.
It is the question of the age: Why is information security important? We hope this article helped answer that question for you. Regardless of where in the United States your business is, the tips and methods listed here will help improve your data security.
In the end, though, you have a business to run. Our original advice remains sound: it’s a good idea to hire a company to run a security audit and help you implement a good data security strategy. That is the best way to truly protect yourself.
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