8 Tips To Help You Keep Your Data Safe

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Playing it Safe: Small Businesses Can’t Sidestep Data Security

In 2012, more than 78% of businesses had suffered at least one data breach in the last two years, according to a Trend Micro-sponsored study conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

No matter their size, all businesses using any kind of internet or wireless connectivity need to be aware of data security in order to keep data as safe as possible.

Below are eight tips to get your SMB off on the right foot towards securing your data.

1. Identify Your Sensitive Data and Delete the Unnecessary Information

Go through all of your company’s data, from the financials to employee and customer information. Decide what you really do need to have on file and discard everything else. Criminals can’t access information that doesn’t exist.

2. Put Levels of Control On Your Data

Once you’ve determined what information is relevant to maintain, allocate specific data clearance to the appropriate parties. Your suppliers might need to access your billing app, but they don’t need customer credit card numbers.

SEE ALSO: The Three Sides To Data Security

Put permissions in place so that every supplier, customer, and employee can access only the information they need. That way, if cyber criminals target your third-party partners or your staff, you have extra protection around much of your sensitive data.

3. Encrypt Everything You Want to Protect

Encryption is your last line of defense. Even if unauthorized individuals break through your security apps and firewalls, they will have a much more difficult time accessing the information.

4. Secure Your Networks

Small businesses rely on wireless networks for their laptops, smartphones, tablets, and now cloud-based software to conduct everyday operations. Hacking unsecured Wi-Fi networks is like shooting fish in a barrel for cyber criminals; they can scan the range of devices on a network, gleaning valuable information. Installing a secured, encrypted wireless network is imperative.

5. Keep Downloads Under Control

Building trust with your employees is an essential component of growing a business. However, they can be one of the weakest links in the security chain if they misuse company-issued tech to download unauthorized (and potentially dangerous) apps and programs, and browse unsafe sites.

SEE ALSO: You’re Not On The List: Keep Your Data Secure

This is bad strategy for your company; proprietary information can get exposed to all sorts of malware, spyware and other malicious programs.

6. Put Password Protocols in Place

If encryption is the last line of defense, strong passwords are the first line. Your employees and customers should be required to use passwords that are at least 10 characters long, a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and ideally not containing a word in the dictionary.

7. Don’t Forget the Physical World

The physical world can open up security risks for digital data, too. Remember to shred and securely dispose of any paper that has confidential data on it, so no one can dig through your trash and gather sensitive information. Lost and stolen phones, tablets, and laptops also present a considerable security risk; asset tag solutions like TechTagger assist the people who find your lost tech to return it without getting important clues as to the kind of information the device could hold.

8. Get Your Head in the Cloud

If you don’t already store your information with a cloud-based service, you might want to consider it. It’s reasonably priced, and cloud vendors have their own robust security features to keep customers’ information safe.

As your company grows, security efforts should also expand. A dedicated IT security manager is a good option for a business on the verge of becoming medium-sized. In the meantime, these pointers should be scalable with the needs and security issues of small businesses.

RELATED: Why Data Security Should Be an SMB Priority

Image: iStockphoto

About The Author

Britt Klontz is a Digital Content Strategist at Distilled, an online marketing company. Say “hi” and give her a shout @Britt_Klontz, she’s always up for having a conversation about digital marketing tactics and social networking in general.