Small businesses often make the mistake of thinking that they aren’t worth the effort of a cyber attack or data breach. On the contrary, small businesses often present as easy targets because they have fewer resources invested in protecting their data.
A data breach can cost a company thousands in fines and legal fees, as well as lost trust and revenue from valued customers. Here are six steps to complete data protection for your small business.
Before you can take steps to protect information, learn about what is required for your business to be in compliance. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates that medical professionals, personal trainers, and anyone else who collects personal health information must have it locked up both physically and electronically. The idea is that no one can walk into a room and see the information sitting in plain sight.
Take the time to understand compliance rules about what collected data requires protection so you can prioritize its security when allocating resources.
Investigate Technology and Third Party Solutions
If your specialty falls outside the realm of IT, it’s worth speaking with a consultant about what security measures you can outsource or purchase. Look at various options, including backup solutions for small business to keep your data secure. Backup options are essential for keeping your untouched data on file if it’s stolen or altered. Also look into firewalls, performance monitoring, and access rights management.
When it comes to data protection, small business owners often don’t know what they don’t know. In other words, they can’t conceive of the threats they need to protect against if they’ve never experienced them before.
Restrict Access to Data
Don’t be fooled into thinking that data protection is purely technological; there are also physical safeguards to put in place. For example, a locked filing cabinet with patient information is a part of the aforementioned HIPAA standards. If you have servers on site, keeping them in a locked room that only specific employees can access adds a strong layer of physical security.
Access rights management is another way to protect your data, employees, and your business. ARM allows you to identify who can access your systems with a password and what they can do in there. For example, while all employees can log into the network, only your payroll person can access employee banking information.
Create Privacy Policies
The function of privacy policies is two-fold: letting your customers know how you handle their data, so they feel safe in providing it and telling your employees what’s expected of them.
The introduction of GDPR has forced a lot of business to re-evaluate their privacy policies. When your customer gives you private information, they want a guarantee that you’re not selling it elsewhere and keeping it safe.
If you’ve ever seen a business that offers free wifi but also has a locked version, it’s to keep their data safe. Having secure wifi is essential for protecting your information, as an open internet connection is often all a hacker needs to access your secure data.
Prioritize Employee Education
According to recent studies, careless employees are responsible for more than half of small business data breaches and cyber attacks. For this reason, employee education is one of the most important steps in creating a complete data protection strategy.
In most cases, employees don’t understand the gravity of their actions. Something as simple as downloading an app from a blog during their lunch break can result in a breach. While having a policy in place is important, you must also take the time to ensure that your employees know what it says and why the policy matters. Remind them that it’s not just the overall business at stake, it’s also their job security.
Protecting your data will help your customers feel comfortable doing business with you and prevent data breaches that could ultimately destroy your business.