Essential Data Security Tips for Your Small Business

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Data security should be a major concern for businesses both large and small. We’re all doing more online than ever before, especially during Covid, from remote working, managing the bills, or running your company’s payroll, and with more sensitive data being handled online, it’s even more important than ever to protect that data and avoid breaches and other problems that could cause real problems for your business.

Encrypt Your Data 

You don’t need to be a tech expert to be able to encrypt your data. There are lots of tools out there now that you can use to encrypt your emails and other important information that needs to be kept secure. You can use these tools to simply encrypt, decrypt, sign and verify emails, protect files, and scramble your data to keep it private and protected. You can also hire companies to take care of this kind of thing for you, whether it’s setting up encryption protocols or taking care of KYC, or Know Your Customer. KYC is a program that your business can put in place to verify the identity and research the backgrounds of customers, clients and suppliers, evaluating the potential risks for illegal activity that the relationship with them poses to your business.

Backup Your Data

Any important data should always be backed up to keep it safe from loss. Having a backup keeps your documents safe if any of your business devices, like laptops, are lost, stolen, or compromised. Backup your important documents or data on something like an external hard drive or in the cloud, so they’re not lost along with the device and it is smart to have multiple backups. At least one should be cloud-based or off-site, in case of damage to your premises causing data loss, like a flood or fire. 

Protect Against Malware

Anti-malware protection lays the foundation of security for your work devices. Malware is designed to infiltrate and damage the computer it gets into, and can come in the form of viruses, worms, spyware, and even more varieties. Malware can get into your device from websites or emails or even hidden in files that you download, freeware or shareware. Avoid getting these infections in your machine by always running a strong anti-virus program, and carrying out regular checks for spyware. Be smart about what you click on or download as well. If you have staff, make sure they know how to spot potentially dangerous downloads or email attachments too. 

Make Old Hard Drives Unreadable

If you’re getting rid of an old computer you don’t need anymore, don’t forget to clear the hard drive so you can prevent your data from being stolen in that way. Transfer any files that you want to keep onto another device or into the cloud. Sanitize the drive-by disk shredding, magnetically cleaning the disk, or using software to wipe the drive clean. Destroy any old computer disks. Dispose of any old computer equipment responsibly to avoid them being used to get at your data.

Install Operating System Updates

Updates can be a nuisance, but they are needed, so don’t put them off. These updates often include critical security patches that will protect your device from any new threats that have been developed. Set your operating system to update automatically so you never miss these all-important updates and put your machine at risk. Don’t ignore updates when they’re ready to be installed. 

Secure Your Wireless Network

Always secure your wireless network, whether you are at home or at the office, with a password. This stops other people from being able to access your network, for free WiFi access, or to get access to your private information. Your network needs to be properly secured, encrypted, and hidden. 

Turn off your computer

When you’ve finished using your computer or laptop, turn it off. Don’t just shut the lid of your laptop and walk away. Leaving a device switched on and still connected to the internet could give someone the opportunity to attack it. A device that has been left on offers a scammer 24-hour access to attempt to install malware. Turn it off when you’re finished working.

Use a Firewall

A firewall helps to block dangerous viruses, spyware, or other programs from getting access to your system. Look for hardware-based firewalls, like the ones that are often built into network routers, to get better security. 

Use a Passphrase Instead of a Password

A passphrase works like a longer password, which is much harder to guess. Instead of choosing a basic password, use a phrase, like a song lyric or a quote that you will be able to remember easily. Use the first letter of each word in the phrase, with some numbers and special characters to create a passphrase that is secure.