As connectivity continues to increase, so does the burden on businesses to ensure that client data is protected. Many SMBs find themselves with the challenge of needing to secure the ultimate protection when it comes to client data, while having limited resources to do so.
The good news here is that there are proactive and inexpensive measures that businesses can execute and maintain, leveraging the power of the entire workforce and third-party experts, to create a comprehensive approach to data security. Let us talk you through some of the strategies that your business can utilise.
Data security culture
It’s important to create a culture where individuals understand the role they play with regards to data security. It is often employees that are a business’s weakest link.
Everyone in the business should be aware of the cyber risks being faced and where weak spots can occur, as well as being engaged in preventing attacks. By creating an environment of vigilance and awareness, employees will be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, they are encouraged to be accountable in the data they share – and this can also help to minimise any ‘insider’ threats.
By sharing stories and information around the threat of data breaches, how they can occur, what it could mean to the business and the measures that are being put in place to prevent any breaches from happening, the concept becomes relevant to your staff members.
Improving security isn’t always about protection, it’s about ensuring resilience. By keeping real-time back-ups, you create a fallback plan that allows you to recover any data lost should a cyber breach or physical incident take place.
Have a security breach plan
According to a previous report by Symantec, small to medium sized businesses are a prime target for cyber threats, and 43% of cyber-attacks are on SMB’s.
While the ultimate goal is to be unbreachable, SMBs must formulate plans that limit the damage caused in the event that data is breached. An information security plan must cover the flow and storage of data, identifying any ways that it could be breached, and where resilience can be added.
Permission levels and role-based access
As cloud adoption increases, often, so does the number of people that have access to it. By instructing your IT staff or outsourced consultants to put permission levels in place, if they haven’t already suggested doing so, you can be certain that only those who need to use the data in relation to their role (known as role-based access) can view to it – limiting risk of both internal and external breaches.
Consistent cyber security education
As the volume and nature of attacks evolve, so should the knowledge and understanding within a business with regards to data security.
Firms should take a proactive and consistent approach when it comes to educating staff about the latest security practices. Appointing an employee to champion this, if there isn’t an IT officer will ensure someone takes ownership of regular training and communication.
It’s no secret that weak passwords practically leave the door open for cyber criminals.
Businesses should create a company policy that dictates the complexity of individual’s passwords with regards to the length, use of capital letters, numbers and ‘special characters’ and how often they should be changed.
Limit the volume of digital data
An element of data security that is often overlooked, is to limit the volume of confidential data that is held within a business.
This approach requires a consistent level of ‘housekeeping’ when it comes to files and folders: only store what is critical and delete any data that is redundant. In doing this you are limiting the damage that can be caused.
When data is being accessed by a plethora of users and devices, it’s an incredibly difficult task to determine if each device that the data might pass through, or be stored on, can be trusted.
The solution to this challenge is to encrypt the data itself. Done by a member of your team, or an IT expert, this will see the element of trust move from the device to the user, as only people who are authorised will have access to encrypted data.
Implementing a two-step verification process is essential when such a variety of devices are being used to access sensitive data. This adds another layer of protection and makes it a far more difficult task to compromise client information.
Building a business that holds data security in the highest regard will require a team effort along with expert intervention but, in today’s environment, there is no excuse for not taking the required measures when it comes to protecting client data.
If you would like to speak to Chalkline about how to build an infrastructure that increases the security of your data, get in touch with us today.