If you run a small business, keeping your data secure should be one of your most important considerations. If your sensitive data gets into the wrong hands it can cause countless problems for your business, and can also lead to large fines if it involves the personal data of your staff or customers.
However, there are some simple tips that all small business owners should keep in mind in order to secure their data, so follow these as a starting point to avoid unnecessary risk.
1. Control Access to Sensitive Data
Whether your sensitive data consists of customer records, financial records, employees’ personal information, credit card details, marketing plans, new product development or anything else, make sure you control who has access to it.
If possible, keep access to a minimum so that you always know who has access to it at any one time. When hiring people who will have access to the data, make sure you carry out background checks to ensure that they do not pose a risk.
2. Use Encryption Where Possible
Encryption is a very basic and effective way to keep digital data secure. Most things can be password protected, from a simple USB stick to an external hard-drive, so always use encryption when it is an option. Passwords are never 100% secure, but they can certainly prove to be an effective deterrent and can provide another obstacle for would-be data thieves. If you are emailing data, always encrypt it and send the password in a separate email.
3. Protect Your Paper Documents
A lot of important data is kept in digital format these days, but your paper documents can also hold sensitive data. These can prove to be an even greater risk because they may be easier to access, so always ensure that any sensitive documents are stored securely and are destroyed properly when no longer needed.
4. Ensure You Have Antivirus Software in Place
Even having basic protection like high-quality antivirus software in place on all your systems can significantly reduce the risks of data theft. New threats are constantly arising, and only by having the best security in place can you protect your business.
5. Destroy Sensitive Data Securely
Sensitive data should always be destroyed securely to ensure that no one gets access to it after you have stopped using it. Phones and computers will store data that can be accessed by those who know how to look for it. Even a reformatted hard drive can be useful to a serious fraudster. Browsing history can contain passwords and financial information. The only way to ensure this sort of information is not discovered and misused is to use a secure data destruction service, which can shred not just paper but also hard drives, clothing (such as branded uniform) and anything else that contains sensitive data.
Keep Your Sensitive Data Safe
These are simple steps that any small business can take to reduce the risk posed by data theft. Your company data is crucial for your business, and you must do everything that you can to keep it safe and secure. It is not hard to keep your data secure, as you can see from the above steps, but if you do not take data security seriously you could find yourself in all kinds of problems. Every company should have a data policy in place so that it’s clear who is responsible and what guidelines are being used.
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