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11 Tips For Small Business Owners To Keep Data Secure And Safe

Published on 02 May 13

A data breach, whether it happens from within the organization or from outside, can bring down even large companies. It’s a huge nightmare especially for small businesses. They stand to lose literally everything if there’s a major data breach. So how do small businesses keep their data safe and sound?

1. Evaluate Your Data Storage Needs

For small businesses, buying, maintaining and managing storage for all of their data can be a huge challenge. It’s necessary, therefore, to evaluate how much data to store, how much will data grow as business expands, and how prepared are you to resume operations quickly after a disaster.

2. Choose The Best Storage Solution

Work with vendors to choose the best storage for your present and future needs. Get an understanding of disaster management, troubleshooting, maintenance, the latest storage trends and so on. Consider Network-Attached Storage (NAS) to replace file servers and enable centralized data access and sharing.

3. Identify And Protect The Most Critical Data

Store multiple copies of your most critical data in several secure locations offsite, far from the primary data center.Keep an inventory of your most critical data, where it resides and what you use it for. Encrypt this data and limit access; keep it segregated from the network. If you’re a retailer, enable SSL to secure critical data transmission across the internet.

4. Reduce Liability Exposure

Your storage volume will increase exponentially over time. Consider a tiered storage system and de-duplication software to cut back on your space needs and the need for more storage. Consolidate your existing storage and enforce policies for record management to reduce liability exposure.

5. Take Care Of Storage Equipment

Protect your storage systems from fire by storing them in cold spaces. Minimize cold air loss by using air locking grommets and blanking panels in server racks. You can keep your equipment cool and reduce cooling costs as well through these methods.

6. Consider Outsourcing Security

Consider outsourcing IT aspects to a third party. You can outsource vulnerability and compliancy management, firewall management and intrusion testing. You can save on costs, and a great deal of stress too, and focus on your business, knowing your data will be safe.

7. Set Up Remote Access In Case Of Disaster

If your office is closed due to a fire or other natural disaster, your employees should be able to access their data from a remote location. Enable VPN and other remote-access software to a networked server or desktop information offsite.

8. Prevent Internal Disclosure

Do thorough background verification and obtain at least two references before hiring employees.

Make sure all paper documents are thoroughly shredded after use; even those in trash cans must be shredded before being thrown.

Disable use to flash drives and CDs on all computers, including laptops, so that data cannot be copied and stolen.

Buy lockable laptop docks so employee laptops can be secure when not in use.

Don’t allow employees to access social media. Also monitor their online activities, the sites they visit and so on.

Watch out for employee downloads. It’s best to block gaming sites and all objectionable sites altogether, since most of the viruses and malware get in from these sites. Allow downloads only from the most reliable sources. Create a policy that dictates employees must obtain permission before downloading anything at all.

Lock important paper documents in a secure room and make sure only the most critical people have a key. This includes business records, contracts, and employee data and so on.

9. Take Measures Against Hackers And Malware

Enable the strongest passwords on all computers and servers. These passwords must be changed regularly, especially the ones for firewalls. Update your anti-virus and anti-spy ware software, and do daily virus and spyware checks on all computers. Make sure your IT team is up to date on the latest data breaches in the industry, and the latest malwares out there. Make sure all computers return to login screen after five minutes of inactivity.

10. Use Secure Wireless And Enable A Solid Firewall

So many companies operate wireless networks without a secure wireless connection. This is totally wrong - if you haven’t been targeted yet, that’s no reason to assume you won’t be targeted, ever. Use the latest firewall encryption methods and a secure wireless connection. No one from outside the company should be able to log in to your wireless.

11. Take Personal Responsibility For Outsourced Data

Even if you have outsourced all your critical data management, it won’t do to sit back and relax. Remember, you’re still 100% liable if any third-party information is leaked, such as critical customer data, credit card information and so on. Your third-party secure datacenter or cloud provider is responsible for any data breach, but you are the one liable. So be sure to monitor your outsourcing provider regularly, get regular reports and updates, and keep your data security under your control.

Guest Author Stephen is a freelance business writer and blogger who uses his considerable knowledge of conversion rate optimization techniques to help other ecommerce businesses.
This blog is listed under Data & Information Management and Server & Storage Management Community

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