Last Updated on 11 months by Komolafe Bamidele
Data breaches are big news, and for a valid reason: they can do severe damage to your business if you don’t take the right steps to protect yourself from these cyber threats.
Unfortunately, there are countless ways that your business’ data can be compromised and put at risk of a data breach in today’s digital world.
Data breaches have become all too common today.
While they don’t directly affect everyone, they are an enormous concern for every company that collects personal information about its customers or employees.
From lost or stolen devices to malicious software, there are many potential threats that you need to protect yourself from if you want to avoid putting your business in danger.
The costs associated with these data breaches are vast, in some cases, millions of dollars per day, so it’s important to protect your business from these attacks and recover quickly if an attack happens.
Here are 7 tips you can take right now to protect your business from a data breach.
1) Encrypt Sensitive Files
Sensitive files, such as financial and employee data, should be stored on encrypted devices.
If an employee leaves a laptop in an airport or it is stolen from their home or car, for example, any information on that laptop will be unreadable without access to its password.
Further, if sensitive data is copied onto removable storage devices like USB sticks or DVDs (which can also be encrypted), you are less likely to lose all of your information at once.
It may not stop a data breach entirely but it will help slow down potential adversaries in some cases.
2) Protect your Devices with Good Passwords
If your computer falls into malicious hands, hackers can extract valuable data: information about your clients, business finances, employee records, etc.
Most people are becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to secure their personal computers and email accounts with strong passwords and two-factor authentication mechanisms like two-step verification codes or facial/fingerprint recognition technology.
Hence, they also ensure that their businesses are also protected against unauthorized access by such measures.
However, some businesses fail to take such precautions because they don’t feel they need them.
After all, employees aren’t accessing sensitive data on company networks or devices.
By not password-protecting your computer, you increase your chances of having a data breach.
3) Limit Employee Access
Limiting employee access to company data is crucial for keeping your company safe from data breaches.
Any employee with access could be at risk of downloading malware that causes hacks and leaks information, so limiting who has access is essential.
Implement strong passwords and avoid reusing passwords between sites, even if you use a password manager; many hackers know how these systems work and exploit them.
If you want to hire an outside party for IT support, look a proper professional up on Leadar.
And if you want someone other than your employees to access sensitive data, such as bank account information, look them up on Nuwber to see if they really are someone they present themselves as and ask about their security policies before hiring them.
4) Be Careful With What You Download
If you think it’s hard to avoid malware-infested sites and programs, you may be surprised to find that threats also lurk in seemingly innocent and trusted sites and apps.
Unfortunately, this makes it easy for cybercriminals to steal your data and wreak havoc on your business.
For example, do you download video drivers or file-sharing apps from websites that aren’t well-known?
Sometimes free software is actually malware in disguise, and if you install it on your computer or smartphone, you could be giving hackers access to sensitive information.
Practice safe downloading habits by checking out unfamiliar web pages with an antivirus program before taking any actions.
5) Watch out for Phishing Attacks
Phishing is one of the most common forms of cyberattacks and occurs when a hacker sends an e-mail that looks like it’s from a legitimate source but actually contains malware or links to malicious sites.
The goal is usually financial gain, but you may also be susceptible if they can gather your personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
Phishing attacks take many forms, but all involve fooling you into providing your login credentials to an imposter site designed to look like your bank’s for example.
One of the hackers’ favourite techniques is sending out very realistic-looking messages purporting to be from popular online retailers offering deeply discounted items or cash rebates if you simply click on links embedded in their message.
Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails; instead, hover over them with your mouse and check their URLs carefully.
6) Install an Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is your first line of defence against viruses, worms, Trojans, and other types of malware.
However, it’s only one part of an effective data security strategy. Installing antivirus software is a good idea, but that alone doesn’t guarantee your company will be safe from hackers.
Always use an up-to-date version and ensure you turn on automatic updates to always have protection in place.
Antivirus software works best if you keep it updated regularly.
In addition, periodically checking for updates can help you quickly detect new threats before they cause damage.
Some vendors even offer real-time scanning features where you can set your computer or network to search for malware threats continuously.
7) Train Your Employees
In addition to training new hires, educate your current employees about cyber security and ensure everyone is on board with your company’s policy regarding personal digital devices.
It’s also important that employees understand why their actions are critical for protecting data.
A good rule of thumb is that no employee should take home whatever device your business allows.
Likewise, don’t allow BYOD or any other kind of mobile device that isn’t covered by an acceptable policy that prohibits personal use.
If an employee does need a device at home, you should provide one rather than allowing them to purchase their own.
For example, some businesses pay for cell phones through carriers to remotely wipe them in case of theft or loss.
On a Final Note
Data breaches are growing in number and severity. So regardless of what you do for a living, it’s imperative that you focus on data security.
Cybersecurity is an arms race.
No one knows that better than business owners, whose firms are ever-increasing targets for cybercriminals, ranging from common thieves to sophisticated nation-state actors.
The point isn’t that you can eliminate all risks—you won’t—but you can take active steps to minimize exposure.
The steps you take today will ensure your business will be protected from future attacks.