Whether your small business is a brand new startup or already a going concern, you have a solemn responsibility when it comes to data protection. Protecting the integrity of customer data, keeping their personal information safe and avoiding data breaches are all critical parts of running a small business these days.
Unfortunately, keeping data safe and protected is not always an easy thing to do. The threats to customer data have never been greater or more widespread, and small business owners face some unique challenges in this regard.
With limited budgets and lacking dedicated IT resources, small businesses are often at a disadvantage when it comes to the security of their data. Even more troubling, small businesses are often targeted for just these reasons, putting customer data further at risk. If you want to avoid these data threats, you need to take proactive steps to protect your small business data, starting with these 10 ideas.
- Set employee accounts to access only the files and systems they absolutely need. This least access policy can protect from both intentional disclosure and accidental leakage of customer data.
- Use so-called dumb terminals instead of full-fledged computers. These networked terminals lack removable storage devices, and they can enhance the security of your business data.
- Consider outsourcing the management of your network. Professional monitoring can enhance your security and identify threats faster than you could on your own.
- Store highly sensitive data in separate databases, and keep it offline if possible. Things like Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, bank accounts and so on are best stored in highly-secured databases.
- Use network monitoring software to scan for threats. If you choose to run your own network operations, this network monitoring software can help you detect looming threats and avoid potential data breaches.
- Install a quality spam filter and monitor it frequently. Many online threats originate with compromised emails, and keeping those threats out of employee inboxes can vastly improve the security of your network.
- Train your employees well and talk often about how to avoid data breaches. Your employees are your first line of defense, and the right training can make a world of difference.
- Keep your systems up to date and apply all the latest patches. Have a plan in place to patch your servers, workstations and other devices – and always back up your data.
- Scan all new devices for threats before adding them to your network. If you allow an employee to bring their own device or choose to add a new piece of networked hardware, scan it thoroughly before allowing it to connect.
- Run regular security audits. Testing your security regularly through security audits will give you peace of mind if you are doing everything right – and a place to start if you need to improve.
Data security can be a real challenge for small business owners, but it does not have to be. You do not need a huge security infrastructure or even a dedicated IT staff to keep your customer data safe. The 10 tips listed above can help you get started, so you and your customers can rest easier.
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