In 2015, CBS reported that more than 80% of companies in the United States have been hacked and information has been stolen, changed, or made public. While we hear more about attacks on major corporations, the reality is it can happen to companies of all sizes, which means it’s more important than ever to secure your customer data. Besides the legalities of clients suing you for a security breach, your hard-earned reputation can be ruined in a matter of days.
Even the smallest attack can sink your entire company, so all employees should take precautions to protect their companies and their customers. But how do you do that? Read on to find out.
Train Your Employees
Knowledgeable employees are your best protection from any kind of data breach, physical or digital. It’s essential that everyone understands the importance of taking those extra steps—even if it takes a little more time and training.
Make sure your employees know what red flags to look for in emails, as well as the importance of not accessing work email or files on a public network (like in a coffee shop). They should never share passwords, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information unless they are on a secure site.
Employees should know how to create strong passwords or use a password generator for additional protection from hackers. They should also know who to report suspicious activity to. Encourage reporting anything that might seem off, even if it ends up being a false alarm. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Create an Action Plan
It’s also important that all employees know how to act should your company experience a breach. A good plan includes information such as what actually qualifies as a data breach, who is responsible for doing what (IT, legal, HR, PR, etc.), the internal course of action (who contacts whom once something happens), and the external course of action (who to contact if you need outside help managing the breach). A clear plan enables everyone to take action quickly and minimizes the impact of the problem.
Protect Physical Data
Even though most business is conducted online these days, don’t forget to protect hard copies and files that are physically stored in your building:
- Restrict employee access and keep any files locked in a secure filing cabinet or other storage unit.
- Collect only the information you absolutely need.
- Shred paperwork as soon as you no longer need it.
- Install alarms and cameras so you know exactly who is accessing files and when.
Safeguard Digital Data
Because so much business is conducted on the internet and in the cloud, most breaches involve hacking into systems or servers. Protect your business and your customers by implementing a few safeguards:
- Use a private server. This option isn’t cheap, but it prevents your website from being compromised because of another website’s weaknesses. A private or dedicated server also means only your employees have access to your information.
- Secure your network. Adding WPA or WPA2 encryption protects the data between your router and computers. Make sure the firewall for your router is on to further secure the network.
- Encrypt data. Data that is encrypted is basically turned into a secret code. It requires a secret key or password to access, which adds another layer of security to the information you are processing. You can encrypt both emails and files.
- Delete data you no longer need regularly and permanently. If you don’t need it, you shouldn’t have it on your server. Any extra information you have sitting around could add more problems if your customer data is accessed.
- Keep your systems updated. This includes regularly updating your operating system, any programs your company uses, and your malware and spam software.
Ideally, an IT person or an IT team would manage these steps for you. If you are short on IT help, give Frontier Business a call and discuss solutions to fit your needs.
The bottom line is that your risk of getting attacked is high, so it’s imperative to protect your business. A report by IBM found that the average cost of a data breach is more than $3 million, so it’s critical to assess where you can do a better job of securing your customer’s data and take action to fill in the gaps.
Feeling overwhelmed? Frontier Business has a variety of digital security solutions available to help.