Whenever you hear of the term cyber-crime, you probably associate it with big businesses and corporations.
After all, why would anyone target your small enterprise?
Thinking like this could prove to be damaging and possibly catastrophic.
Small businesses are increasingly becoming the victims of cyber-attacks. In fact, Symantec reported that out of all the cyber-attacks perpetrated in 2015, , 43% targeted small businesses. Their report also indicated that the attack on small businesses has been on the rise with 2011 having 18%, 2012 having 31%, 2013 having 30%, and 2014 having 34%.
The trend indicated above is worrying.
But, remember, the reason for the increased attacks is because hackers have realized that small businesses apply little to no effort in the securing of their data.
So what is data security and how does it protect your business from potential threats?
How to keep your small business data safe?
Data security or protection, put simply, is the procedure employed to ensure that your data cannot be corrupted or accessed illegally.
The idea behind securing your data is to protect your business’s data while ensuring that it stays private. Data includes all personal and business files that are stored in the database. The process of securing data generally follows these three steps:
- Encryption. For any data to be of any use, it has to be understandable on a human level. Encryption counters this by using a set of algorithms and mathematical schemes to scramble the information into an unreadable format. This encrypted text can only be decoded by someone who has the decryption key.
To take it up a notch, end-point full encryption is employed. It encrypts every last bit of data in your hard disk thus giving you a very high form of protection.
- Strong user Authentication. We encounter user authentication on a daily basis. Every time you try to login into your computer or social media account, you are required to go through a one-step verification process. One-step verification is weak and is easily hacked. A strong user authentication process will often involve multiple stages of verification making it very difficult to hack.
- Data Backup. You have to be prepared for when the worst happens. Securing your data will never give you 100% assurance. There is always the chance that there might be a loophole in the system which may include an inside job. That is why the process of securing data also includes a backup plan. The backup will ensure that although the information may be stolen, you can always restore it.
By now, you might be inclined to start securing your data; but why is it important to do so?
Someone could be accessing your information without your knowledge
In this internet technology-driven world, anything is possible. Industrial espionage is no longer a term that is relegated to spy films and large corporations; the threat of it happening to you is very real. Someone, probably a competitor, could be keeping track of your undertakings. This information could give them an edge. You might be playing clean, but that doesn’t mean that someone else does.
A trillion cyber-attacks were attempted during the past year
Dell reported that they helped prevent over 1 trillion hacks during the previous year. This figure is mind-boggling. You cannot possibly want to put your business at risk knowing that you could get attacked at any time.
The financial implications of a data breach
The costs of cleaning up and recovering your data after an attack are very high. The cost of setting up a data security system pales in comparison with that of picking up the pieces after being subjected to cyber-crime.
As a small and growing business, your business wears its reputation like a badge of honor. Nothing could devastate your company faster than losing your customer’s trust.
Now that we know why it is important to secure your data, here are seven data security tips for small business:
1. Adopting EMV
EMV initials stand for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. EMV is an encrypted payment system that uses microchips in the credit card to process transactions. In addition, it also protects the information in the card. This ensures that both parties are free from fraud. Upgrade the payment system in your business to accept EMV cards. Not only will this protect your business, but it will also absolve you from liability in the event that fraud does happen. Plus train your team with PCI training online.
2. Securing your wireless network
Wireless networks attract more hackers than a moth to a light bulb. While your standard network encryption key might keep your next door neighbors from accessing your network, hackers could log into it in their sleep. This is why you need to use the strongest encryption setting in your router to protect your business. Additionally, disable the broadcasting function in order to make your network invisible. After all, they cannot hack what they can’t see.
3. Perform background checks
At times, we might get caught up in securing our businesses against outside intrusions and fail to protect it from what is happening right in front of us. Inside jobs are the biggest threats to a business apart from cyber-crime. Pricewatercoopers reported that employees orchestrated over 70% of frauds committed to small businesses.
This is why you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to selecting the right employees for your business. Check their backgrounds as these will often give a clue on what kind of person they are. In addition, be observant of what is going on with your employees. Changes in character should be duly noted as changes in their performance will often accompany these.
4. Decentralize password access to sensitive data
Never allow one person to have access to all the passwords. The levels of entry should be distributed to different employees to minimize the risk of the data being breached. Maintain the central access key yourself.
5. Shred business documents
Physical documents need to be safeguarded. Access to the documents should require authorization from the necessary source. This should ensure that in case a document goes missing, you can easily trail the theft process, or at least there will be someone to be held accountable.
Additionally, old records that have their information in the database should follow the correct process of discarding. The best way to achieve this is through shredding by a particular person.
6. Upgrade your software
Buy the necessary software that will help you in this quest. These include encryption software and excellent anti-virus programs.
Good corporate anti-virus programs come in handy because hackers nowadays have automated their hacking systems. These means that bots will try to infiltrate your system, a good antivirus should take care of this. Plus don’t forget your smartphone. You should also look into protecting your mobile from viruses and this is even more important if you do work on a phone and that includes just answering emails.
7. Data backup of your business data
Like we previously discussed, backing up your data is preparing yourself for the worst. It will save you a lot of hassle in case something does happen.
These security threats against your data information are unlikely to end anytime soon.
This is because the world has all but embraced the internet. Failing to have a website for your business is just bad business practice. The caveat is that this puts your business at risk of hacking. It is therefore imperative to secure your business in all ways that you can.