Picture this scenario: you walk into your office one morning to see pandemonium. Your employees are in an agitated mess, you know something is very wrong. Your IT team informs you that your company’s data is compromised.
At best, a data breach will damage your reputation. At worst, you could be at risk for massive lawsuits.
Cybersecurity is nothing to take for granted. Every business is at vulnerable. To keep your sensitive data safe, try these cybersecurity tips.
Tips to Protect Your Business’ Sensitive Data
To prevent a data breach, you need to be a step ahead of hackers. These tips will get you started:
1. Set Up a Cybersecurity Strategy
Cybersecurity isn’t something you can deal with on the fly. Invest time in coming up with a researched, up-to-date cybersecurity plan. Think of the different ways someone could access your data and set up roadblocks before there’s a problem.
Make sure to think beyond your office. If you have work from home employees, set up security protocol for them to use.
Remember that hacking evolves every year, so your cybersecurity plan should too. Just like you revisit your marketing plan each year, do the same with your security plan.
2. Make Your Employees’ Accounts Hard to Access
Some businesses focus on complex solutions while overlooking the obvious. The first step to great security is requiring hard-to-crack passwords. It’s also important to give employees access to the data they need and nothing more.
Another way to keep your employees’ accounts safe is two-factor authentication. For example, after an employee enters the password, the software sends a code to his/her phone. The employee must enter the one-time code to access the software.
3. Choose Your Data Center Carefully
If your company is maintaining its own servers, your data center plays a large role in your security. Take a tour of a data center and find out their security protocol before you commit.
If you do business overseas, keep in mind that international data laws may require that you set up a data center overseas. For instance, European data cannot be stored in the US. If you do business in Europe, you need a London data centre or a data center elsewhere in Europe.
4. Back Up Your Data Often
A data breach doesn’t just mean that your data gets into the wrong hands. It can also mean that you lose important data.
One of the rising threats of hacking is ransomware. This software quarantines your data and threatens to delete it if you don’t pay a “ransom.”
You can protect yourself against ransomware by backing up your data on a regular basis. If a hacker threatens to delete your data but you have a backup from two hours ago, it’s not a huge problem.
Make sure you do backups on a consistent basis. You may be able to set up an automatic backup that runs at the same time every day or every week.
Keep in mind, however, that this shouldn’t be a substitute for other security measures. It’s a way to mitigate damage in one particular situation.
5. Train Your Employees about Social Engineering
People have this image of hackers as people sitting in a basement typing like to wind to “break into” a system. In reality, 84% of hackers use social engineering as a common tactic.
Social engineering is a term for tricking people into giving away data or access. For example, a hacker may call your HR department and say they’re a new employee. The HR employee, though they can’t verify the information, gives the hacker access to your internal software.
Offer your employees direct training about how to detect social engineering. Provide this training for new hires and give refresher courses every so often.
6. Update Your Software on a Regular Basis
In many cases when a company’s data is compromised, it’s due to a flaw in the software they use. You might not be the one who made the software, but you’ll still face consequences if it isn’t secure.
Keep up with your software’s updates and install them as soon as you’re aware of them. A large number of these updates involve patching security holes, even if they don’t state it in the description. This applies to your operating system, your browser, any plug-ins on your site, and more.
7. Teach Your Employees How to Catch Phishing or Other Scams
On top of social engineering, hackers can trick employees with email tactics. Train your employees on how to detect suspicious emails.
For example, explain the signs of phishing emails. Instruct employees never to open .exe files that come as email attachments unless they know what it is.
In many cases, a hacker will send the same type of email to numerous people at the same company. Tell your employees to alert your IT department if they get a suspicious email.
8. Consider Hiring a Cybersecurity Consultant
Hiring a consultant is a great way to get a specialist’s input without the expense of a new employee. That’s as true with cybersecurity as it is for marketing or acquisitions.
A cybersecurity consultant has specialized, up-to-date knowledge about data risks. They can comb through your operations to look for security risks and advise you about how to fix them. In some cases, the consultant can repair your security holes as well.
If possible, look for a cybersecurity consultant who has experience in your industry. For instance, if you’re a medical company or doctor’s office, look for someone with experience in HIPAA compliance.
Safeguarding Your Business with Cybersecurity
Depending on the nature of your business, your sensitive data could be what keeps your company alive. Some aspects of cybersecurity cost nothing, while others are major investments. Still, is vulnerable data a risk you can afford to take?
If you’re looking for more ways to protect and boost your business, check out our business tips blog.