Avoid hacks and data breaches with these simple tips
Most people have heard at least one recent news story about a major data breach. Even more alarming, is that there are a growing number of people who have been personally affected by a data breach. Take Equifax for example—143 million American consumers had personal information compromised. The data breach not only cost those customers their sense of security, but will also cost Equifax in reputation, money, and more.
The good news is that there are also a growing number of ways to protect your customers. Businesses can take action to keep data secure and prevent data breaches. Here are just a few simple tips to avoid hacks and breaches into your business’s most sensitive information:
Understanding Where Attacks Come From
One of the simplest ways to protect your business is to understand where your weaknesses are. In general, data breaches occur through:
- Hacking and malware
- Careless or unethical employees
- Lost documents or mobile devices
- Accidental disclosures
- Credit or debit card fraud
Simple Actions to Take to Prevent Data Breaches
As a business, there are several actions you can take to secure your data. The more you implement, the better your chances of avoiding a costly breach:
Use secure connections – This may seem like a no-brainer, but stay up to date on what a secure connection looks like. For example, is your wireless connection password secure? This surprisingly simple step is often overlooked, and a wireless connection that lacks a password is very risky. Other secure connections include having the right firewalls, and using the correct connections for transfer of sensitive information or for conducting financial transactions (things like SSL and TSL). If any of your employees work remotely, make sure all of their connections are secure as well.
Keep mobile devices secure – While mobile devices have made everyday living much more convenient, they also add a new layer of risk. Any mobile devices that have access to sensitive information should have:
- Password protection
- Data encryption
- Security apps
- Stolen/lost device protocols
Evaluate your employee procedures – Human error is a commonly-known concept—people mess up regularly. However, you can have procedures that keep your risk of a data breach due to employee error or carelessness from getting too high. Some of the things to implement concerning employees are:
- Conduct a background check on all new hires (both criminal check and contacting references)
- Create user accounts for each employee and make sure any laptops are password protected
- Limit data access; keep authority for only those who need it
- Train employees in data security; make sure you have refresher courses from time to time
- Establish rules and behaviors (strong passwords, potential penalties, policies, etc.)
Protect papers – Your papers should be stored safely, and any documents you no longer need should be shredded.
Update software and use trusted sources for downloads – All of your software should be consistently updated, and this includes everything from anti-virus software to everyday software you use to run your business. Many of these updates have security protocols built in that will maximize your level of security. Also, don't download indiscriminately. Only download from trusted sources.
Backup – Your most important data should always be backed up. That way, should anything occur, you’ll have the critical data you need to conduct business. Many experts recommend backing up at least weekly.
Today’s world demands that you consider data security. As cyber criminals get more clever and determined, as a business, it’s beneficial to stay one step ahead.