7 Must Know Tips To Secure Your Business Data
Data is the lifeblood of modern businesses, informing and enabling a wide range of daily operations. It’s therefore essential that you can keep all your organisation’s data safe from cybercriminals, human error, and any other incidents that could potentially see vital data stolen or lost.
The following checklist should help your business on its way to developing a robust security framework that will protect all its most valuable data.
1) Map out your data flows
The first step to securing your business data is knowing what data you’re trying to secure. You should map out exactly what data is used by which sections of your business, where this data is stored and transferred, and how it’s being used. Accurately identifying how data flows in your business can inform further security planning by highlighting where your vulnerabilities lie and what is your high-priority data.
If you have a large volume of data to comb through, then data discovery tools can help by scanning your networks for particularly sensitive data. If any such data types are found on devices or network areas that shouldn’t be there, these tools can also delete or encrypt the data to prevent any unauthorised access.
Mapping out data flows is not only vital for security, it’s also a good step towards the transparency required by many regulatory bodies and compliance frameworks such as AFSL and RACGP. As such, data flow mapping can protect your business from compliance issues as well as data loss.
2) Educate everyone in your organisation
It is widely known most data breaches and other data loss incidents are caused by human error. As such, it’s vital that employees across your business are educated on security protocols and best practices in order to insulate your business from potentially devastating blunders.
Don’t be fooled that this only applies to administration staff in many cases this extends to senior management as well. Often it is those in the ‘top-end’ of the organisation who cough up the keys without even knowing it! Therefore, educating senior decision-makers on the importance of strong security measures it extremely important and also has the added benefit of ensuring they allocate the proper resources to data security, enabling a more robust security framework overall.
In most organisations today, security awareness training is no longer an option but rather a necessity. To help combat the growing cyber threat KnowBe4 are leading the charge with their Security Awareness and Training platform boasting the world’s largest resource library created to educate and test knowledge across the board. If you need cybersecurity training and want to simulate social engineering scams to test your staff, be sure to investigate KnowBe4.
3) Ensure you have a strong backup policy
If anything does go wrong and valuable data is lost or stolen from your business, it’s vital that you have an effective disaster recovery plan in place. The core of this should be a robust data backup strategy that enables your business to retrieve an up-to-date version of lost data assets, allowing it to recover more quickly and resume normal operations.
You should make sure that your business updates data backups regularly to reduce the potential damage of lost data. Moreover, you should ensure that you have multiple redundant backups in place to reduce the risk that your backup will fail.
If in doubt, your business should follow the 3-2-1 backup strategy:
- Keep at least three copies of your data
- Back up your data on at least two types of storage
- Keep at least one backup off-site.
These three steps ensure that should anything go wrong, your business will almost always have at least one secure backup it can rely on.
4) Protect data stored in the cloud
While cloud technology has advanced massively in recent years – and cloud security along with it – many organisations are still worried about the security of data stored in the cloud. To match these worries, your business should invest in specialist cloud security tools to further protect any data it stores in the cloud.
For instance, if you are using Microsoft Office/365, it is a common misconception that your data is fully backed up, however this is not the case. Unfortunately, a comprehensive backup solution for your M365 data is not included in your standard Microsoft licensing, as such you could be at risk of losing vital data. This is also true for your email accounts – Microsoft’s ‘off-the-shelf’ products don’t come with a security system that will fully safeguard your business email, so looking for a quality email protection solution is something to highly consider.
Finally, make sure your business chooses a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) that employs robust security measures of their own, particularly regarding the physical security of their cloud servers. A simple way to check this is to choose a CSP with the proper quality credentials such as ISO 9001 and 27001.
5) Use encryption
Encryption is a useful and versatile tool that can be used to easily and effectively secure data from unauthorised access. Not only can encryption protect data within your network, it can also be used to secure data prior to transferring it to hard drives, mobile devices, or the cloud.
Encryption tackles two major issues facing today’s businesses: the increased mobility of employees across different locations and networks, and the increase in remote work that takes data outside of on-site networks.
Encrypting sensitive data ensures that even if data is stolen through insecure off-site networks or the theft of physical devices, it will remain inaccessible to those outside your organisation.
6) Make sure you have a policy for personal devices
Many businesses have begun to implement bring your own device (BYOD) schemes that see employees bring in their own devices to work on. While this reduces hardware costs to the business, it can also increase security risks by taking data out of the controlled environment of the company’s own network.
If your business employs a BYOD model, it should also implement strict policies that limit which types of data can be accessed by and transferred to personal devices. Another option is to require specific security standards and software to be used on personal devices. Finally, any data that is transferred to personal devices should be encrypted to mitigate the risk of sensitive data being accessed from a stolen or compromised device.
7) Automate/Outsource updates
One of the most common sources of vulnerability to cyberattacks stems from software that is not properly updated. Every patch and update applied to software includes improvements to security measures; failing to update software therefore leaves the door open for cybercriminals to exploit known vulnerabilities and access your sensitive data.
Manually updating software takes time and effort; it’s also open to human error and negligence that can leave software improperly updated. One way to reduce this risk is to automate all updates to software and operating systems, ensuring that you’ll always have the latest updates and security applied. If this is not something you are comfortable to ‘set and forget’ then consider outsourcing your I.T. to a trusted specialist.
Data is vital to your business, so it’s equally vital that you take the right steps to keep it secure. The tips in this guide are only the start, however; the best security frameworks require constant maintenance and should look to proactively adapt to new business operations, technologies, and vulnerabilities. As such, make sure you invest the necessary time, effort, and resources into your business’ data security to protect it from undue harm.