is an issue many businesses are facing today, and there can be a lot of risk involved with not having a comprehensive strategy for protecting customers’ information.
As a business, you have worked hard to create a relationship of trust between you and your clients, and it’s important to keep it that way. This may mean that you need to bring in additional security measures to avoid data breaches and stolen files.
Thankfully, there are some simple ways you can retain your customers’ business while avoiding a security crisis. Here are some measures you can put in place to potentially prevent these issues.
1. Consider any physical threats
While the most common form of compromised computer security tends to be through online hacking, physical threats are still common. This is particularly true if you happen to keep physical files that, once discarded, can be used to gather information. If there is an actual break-in, documents can also be stolen or destroyed.
In order to avoid any of these scenarios, there are some simple solutions. One is regulating who has access to your company’s buildings. Make sure to limited keys or passes to areas that you don’t want frequently visited or that may contain information you don’t want shared. This can help to mitigate giving access to those who would use your clients’ information inappropriately.
It’s also a good idea to upgrade your security hardware on a regular basis. This can include:
- Installing new cameras
- Hiring more security staff
- Equipping your building with new locks
- Upgrading windows and doors
Again, these are easy ways to keep out those who may want to compromise any data that you have located inside the building.
If you have any documents or items that you feel could harm your business outside of your offices, they should be shredded or destroyed before being discarded. It may seem like a small way to avoid issues with security, but it can actually end up saving you a lot of worry, knowing that your business’s and your customers’ information isn’t in the hands of someone who could take advantage of it.
2. Prepare for cyber attacks
A more common security issue businesses face is having their data stolen by hackers
. Because it is often unperceived, cybersecurity threats have only recently been taken more seriously by businesses as many are looking to move their records and communication online.
It has become normal now for more files and documents to be stored on a server, but there are ways to prevent losing your clients’ trust even in the event of a hack.
One of the first steps is to decide which documents need to be protected in case hacking occurs. Prioritize which documents should be watched most by identifying information that is the most sensitive and could cause the biggest issues within your business if it was to be released.
Not all of your records will need to be protected so thoroughly, but you can formulate a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy if you have a good idea of which records should be kept the most secure.
You’ll want to take some time to identify what you share with others as well. You may be giving out sensitive information that could lead to bigger problems down the line. Just as you want to limit physical access to certain files and documents in your office, you should do the same with your digital information.
Double-check before sending out emails and notices so you know that you’re sending them to the correct people.
Remote worker safeguards
You should also consider additional protection for remote workers and employees who need to access company information while away from the office. Learning how to work remotely and securely
will benefit your business and your clients.
Educate your entire staff
Your employees should have a clear understanding of what can and cannot be shared with customers and amongst each other. Encouraging responsibility for cybersecurity
can go a long way toward making sure that they don’t share data that they shouldn’t.
Encourage them to be extra vigilant about what they send and to whom. It shouldn’t just be your concern as a business owner, because it’s important to let your employees know that this should matter to them too. It also goes without saying that private company information should not be shared on social media - but sometimes it needs to be said anyway!
Management as cybersecurity advocates
Upper management should also make corporate cybersecurity a priority. Your CEO and other leaders need to be advocates for enhancing and promoting cybersecurity awareness because phishing and sharing passwords can cause serious problems.
They should all be aware of how data can be compromised through cyber attacks and should learn cybersecurity best practices. You may also want to send out occasional updates on ways to avoid these issues, such as through a newsletter, email, or your company blog.
Limiting access means that you should also make it difficult for cybersecurity attacks to infiltrate your company’s computers and other devices. You should have a variety of passwords that are generated at random. And never use the same password for multiple accounts.
Be discerning about who you choose to give any login information to and change your passwords often so hackers have less chance of guessing what they might be.
In regard to passwords
, try to encourage your employees to consider two-factor authentication. This means that you choose something you know as your username and password. Then you would require a physical item to access files. This could be an app on your smartphone, a USB drive, or a smart card.
It’s also worth looking into hiring a third-party to monitor your various types of files to make sure that there aren’t any warning signs. An IT department can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and can install necessary cybersecurity software in order to help you avoid a hack.
While it may seem excessive to add another department, you can always use a remote option to assist
those who need additional help when it comes to dealing with new applications or issues with devices.
3. Consider additional cybersecurity tools and software
You can also mitigate the chances of losing your valuable information by using a few types of cybersecurity solutions. Most are easy and quick to install and can add an extra layer of security that you may not have otherwise.
If you use any login information or send emails containing sensitive data, having this software on your work devices can be necessary to keep everything safe.
Types of cybersecurity solutions
Every computer should have a firewall. Many devices come with one already installed but it may not be enough to protect you from those who are good at hacking through corporate accounts. It’s worth investing a bit more than you would for your personal account because you are in charge of others’ data.
There are a number of firewall options that have been created for businesses. These can help destroy viruses or malware that could compromise your security.
A VPN can also be a great way to throw off hackers looking to track your online trail. A corporate VPN scrambles your IP address and makes it more challenging for those looking to acquire login information or your company’s files.
offer the most basic protection, so it’s important to find one that will also monitor the traffic on your business’s server. This allows you to see if there is any suspicious behavior and if there are any gaps where a hacker might be able to get through.
These VPNs can also be used to encrypt data itself, so even if hackers do manage to find a way to download your information, they won’t be able to open it.
Just as you would make sure to back up a personal computer, you’ll also want to make sure there are copies of your important business files on another server. Many hackers not only hold data for ransom and sell it to other companies, but they can also threaten to not give it back.
Backups can keep you from having to pay large amounts of money to get it back because you can download it again from another source. While hackers may still have access to your data, but you won’t be without it.
There are plenty of types of backup software available, and it’s a good idea to make sure that where you choose to send your files has security measures in place. Whether you choose to place them on a USB drive or CD, or you would like to have it on a cloud storage service
, backups can save your company a lot of resources if you ever find yourself at the mercy of a hacker ransoming your files.
Encrypting your emails is another essential action that you should consider. Even if you aren’t sharing hyper-sensitive information through your communication, it can often still be traced back to login data and passwords. Email encryption
often requires additional screening for clients or other employees to open attached files or to read the message.
Along with a VPN
, this can make it much more difficult for hackers to access the files you’re sharing with others.
4. Have a contingency plan
Cybersecurity is a common problem. It’s completely possible that you may find yourself dealing with an attack. Just in case, it’s recommended that you have a plan. Time is of the essence when you are facing a security breach.
How quickly you and your employees respond can make a big difference in how much of your data is stolen and how you should deal with the situation.
The first thing you should consider is which staff members will be involved and who you should immediately contact in order to resolve the problem. Including an IT expert should be your first step because he or she may be able to shut down the attack or control how much data is stolen.
Do you need a system-wide shutdown?
While this should be seen as a last resort, if the attack is bad enough it may be necessary to shut down your entire system. This can stop an already-occurring attack and lock out any additional hackers.
On the other hand, staff and clients will immediately know that there is a problem. You’ll want to have an expert on hand to help you get things back up and running again with enhanced security in place, and you’ll want to alert management to what has occurred.
Finally, the best way to avoid dealing with a problem with security is to have regular security audits and to pay attention to any potential threats
. Be aware of any cause for concern and make sure that your employees will contact you if they notice any suspicious activity.
When you have created a company culture where cybersecurity is a priority
, then your staff is more likely to recognize anything that could be a threat.
Corporate cybersecurity builds client trust
It takes a long time to build trust and to have clients think about your brand positively. A breach in security
can cause issues with both your customers and within your company. By looking into which measures you can take, you can help to protect your business’ files and data.
About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.
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