5 Smart Ways for Businesses to Protect Data
Written by Team Ooma
Did you know that cyber attacks can cost companies millions of dollars? In fact, Business Insider found that the average cyber threat cost U.S. businesses $6.53 million. And with the “frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks” at an all-time high, don’t expect those costs to drop anytime soon.
However, you can protect your business’s data if you take these five smart steps.
1. Know What You’re Up Against
Protecting your data starts with understanding all the external and internal risks that could affect your business. These include being aware of any vulnerabilities in your security system, understanding the motives of hackers and knowing the most common threats and schemes.
- Phishing and spoofing, where hackers obtain usernames and passwords through fraudulent emails and websites.
- Hacking, where unauthorized access is granted through any accounts connected to an email or website domain.
- Identity theft, when someone steals your name or information like your Social Security number or credit card account number.
- Social engineering, where an attacker uses social interaction to gain information.
- Malware threats or malicious software, which are software created by hackers to steal data.
- Keyloggers, which will track each and every keystroke you type.
Knowing what you’re up against gives you a chance to prepare for any possible threats and have a plan in place to address them.
2. Follow the Best Security Practices
This may sound obvious, but protecting your business’s data involves following the security practices recommended by leading security experts. Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, recommends taking the following steps:
- Updating and patching your operating systems, system software and web browsers.
- Installing a firewall and antivirus software.
- Encrypting your wireless network, drives, folders and files.
- Restricting software and setting up administrative rights so nothing can be installed without your knowledge.
- Using filtering that controls access to data.
- Blocking access to restricted websites.
- Implementing a strict password policy.
3. Train Employees
“Many breaches (including the Target breach in 2014) occur because employees unintentionally and unknowingly hand over sensitive business information to a hacker presenting themselves as a reputable person in need of information, or because they click on malicious links sent to them via email,” writes Kelly Spors on the American Express OPEN Forum.
“Supply your employees with best practices — such as using strong password protections and secure networks when working remotely — whenever they use personal devices such as smartphones or laptops for work,” Spors recommends. “Training employees on how to look for — and avoid — such breaches can protect a business from being the next victim.”
4. Minimize the Amount of Information You Store
The more data you store online, the more opportunities hackers have to steal data. Because of that, only store the most essential information online, specifically in the cloud. For example, when you store the names of your customers, don’t include each and every piece of information you have about them, such as their birth dates or Social Security numbers. If possible, limit the information to only their name and contact information.
A 2014 study from Ericsson found that the average American home has more than five machines connected to the Internet. Now, just imagine how many devices a business is running and the task of keeping track of which devices are online and which are offline.
In fact, Verizon discovered that “a quarter of the breaches were the result of hackers getting in through a machine that didn’t need to be online.” Mike Denning, vice president of global security at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, tells The Wall Street Journal that you should only have the necessary machines online.
How have you been able to protect your business’s data?