When someone thinks about the business assets they can’t do without, they are first likely to think about physical assets like their company headquarters, vehicles, and equipment. But one asset that no business owner should take lightly—especially in this day and age—is their business data.
Though business data is intangible, it plays a crucial role in earning revenues, serving business customers, and managing the company’s day-to-day operations. If you run a business and you see the logic in protecting your physical assets, for example by buying insurance or disaster-proofing your premises, you should put the same effort into protecting your business data.
How should you protect your data so that it’s always safe, accessible, and ready for business use? To answer that question, here’s a list of the six best practices you should follow.
Launch a Formal IT Strategy for Safeguarding Your Company Data
The first thing you should do is make data protection a common concern for everyone in your company. You can do this by drafting a formal IT strategy, which includes a disaster recovery plan, that details the rationale and best methods for safeguarding company data. Then, execute the plan from the management level to the level of individual employees.
A formalized IT strategy will be particularly helpful to individuals who are new to the company, as well as individuals who don’t consider themselves to be tech-savvy. With proper IT guidelines in place about how to protect your company’s data assets in everyday situations, you will be able to practice better data protection on both an institutional and individual level.
Invest in a Cloud Solution for Backup and Recovery
Second, you can enhance your company’s data backup and recovery plans by exploring disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) and investing in a cloud DRaaS solution. Given the data-heavy nature of doing business today, plus the presence of multiple types of risks to a company’s data assets—from physical hazards like natural disasters to cybersecurity-related threats—it’s safest to utilize cloud-driven backup and recovery technologies as opposed to only relying on manual storage devices.
It may seem expensive to subscribe to a cloud service, but it is in fact not the case because of economies of scale. Plus, a cloud provider that offers both backup and recovery services will be able to do both in a short amount of time, thus allowing you to return to business as usual and sparing you the added costs of prolonged business interruption after an emergency.
Implement an Airtight Data Destruction Policy
Conversely, there are some situations in which you’ll want your data destroyed instead of backed up. If confidential business information isn’t disposed of properly, you run the risk of it falling into the wrong hands and having your business operations compromised in some way.
Improperly deleting data is a source of security breaches. Enforce a policy that makes sure your employees know when and how to delete data assets that need to be removed, as well as how to dispose of data from specific devices or repositories so that it can no longer be recovered.
Secure Your Company Computers from Malware with Firewalls and Segmentation Measures
Data threats can also come in the form of malware, or malicious software, that is downloaded into your company computers or network. What’s damaging about malware is that people often don’t know that it’s already in the system until it’s too late, when the damage has already been done.
Installing firewalls on your company computers will serve as barriers to data threats such as malware. You should also consider investing in additional security software that guards against hacking, malware from suspicious websites, and spam emails because these can wreak considerable damage to data assets on your company PCs. Finally, consider performing network segmentation to limit user access to only specific parts of the network. By compartmentalizing your network, you essentially prevent users or threats from moving laterally across your network and infecting more devices.
Encrypt Your Company Data & Backups
If a bad actor somehow obtains access to your company data, they will have a harder time decrypting it if the data is properly encrypted. That’s the rationale behind encrypting your company data or concealing the information they hold in the form of unreadable ciphertext. Also, it is very important for data backups to be encrypted, both in motion and at rest.
Look into an information protection service that can encrypt your business data for you and safeguard your encryption keys. Doing so will give you the upper hand against malicious agents who want to exploit your data assets. For backups, some vendors, such as Quorum, provide encryption for data backups as a standard.
Tighten the Security Around Your Wireless Network
Lastly, if you use a wireless network in any of the places you conduct your business, be sure to tighten the security around it. Wi-Fi routers are, by default, configured to be unsecured, which can make it quite easy for intruders to connect to your Wi-Fi network, change its settings, and try to steal your data or compromise it in some way. It isn’t only your company computers or laptops that are vulnerable to such attacks; other devices that are connected to the network, like mobile phones or tablets, are susceptible too.
Ensure that any wireless network that you run on business premises is properly secured. Use strong encryption settings on your router, and keep the network from being discoverable to anyone who isn’t part of the company.
It may initially give you the jitters to think about all the ways your company data can be compromised. But the more you do to actively protect it, the safer it will be—and the freer you and your team will be to go on with business as usual.