Data loss is not something you commonly think about when planning a startup. Sure, you may have implemented the basic security measures that can avert common forms of cyber-attacks, but it is foolish to think that you are 100% safe from security threats that can put you out of your business.
According to IBM, the average cost of data breaches for companies worldwide is a whopping $4 million. EMC Corporation, now known as Dell EMC, also estimated that data loss and downtimes cost businesses $1.7 trillion per year. Furthermore, data breaches can ruin your brand and reputation, making it extremely difficult to recover even after dealing with the breach.
These are staggering figures for any business—big or small.
Fortunately, most of the possible causes of data loss can be prevented with planning and a little proactivity. Without further ado, below are the things you need to avoid the consequences of data loss:
1. Adequate Malware and Virus Protection
For as long as people can remember, viruses and malware are the main threats in computing technology. These bits of code may have different purposes. For example, a virus can be coded to corrupt data and spread to other devices. Malware, on the other hand, are typically designed with a purpose that may benefit the creator such as to steal information and display unauthorized ads.
As a business, you should make sure you are duly protected against these threats. First off, make sure you use an enterprise-grade antivirus software for your business network. As long as you keep them updated, you should receive adequate protection against all known threats.
Another way to prevent virus and malware infections is to reinforce your business website with a web application firewall. This feature is sometimes bundled together with an antivirus tool, but there are also cloud-based providers that offer scalable solutions.
2. Remote Backups
Keeping backups of your important business data is a great way to ensure the security and continuity of your business. Fortunately, a lot of people, including business owners and freelancers, make it a habit to backup data whenever possible. However, it is a mistake to rely on only one backup—usually an external drive—that may also be compromised by thieves, fires, and other accidents.
To keep your data safe, make sure you utilize a remote backup service that works through cloud technology. With a remote backup, you no longer have to worry about the storage location. Service providers also often include an automatic backup feature, allowing you to focus more on the productive aspects of your business. For those who are running their websites with WordPress, a great example of a remote backup service is VaultPress.
3. Responsible Employees
If there’s someone who can make a difference for your company’s security, it is a well-trained employee. In addition to hacking activities and system downtimes, one of the principal causes of data loss is human error. For example, an employee who misplaces a flash drive that contains vital business information can jeopardize the company’s security. Worse, some employees actually use weak passwords (qwerty, 12345, password, etc.) to “secure” their access to your business network.
That said, it is the management’s duty to train the staff on the responsible handling of data. Be sure they adhere to safety practices when setting passwords, browsing online, keeping physical copies of files, and so on. Also encourage them to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) whenever they connect to your business network from a remote location.
4. Appropriate Access Levels
As your business organization grows, make sure your IT team sets the appropriate access levels for your employees. You could also set the access levels yourself using platforms like Google Groups for Business. Keep in mind that you should only allow your employees to access the information they need to fulfil their roles. By restricting their access to sensitive data, you should be more protected against the dangers of disgruntled employees and accidental data leakage.
Lastly, remember that encryption can be implemented in multiple levels for your business. For example, your website can be protected against online eavesdroppers using SSL/TLS encryption. It works by requiring a “handshake” that verifies the identities of the sending and receiving ends in online communication.
Remember that SSL/TLS requires you to install a certificate, which can be acquired as an add-on or for free in some web hosting solutions. Apart from that, SSL/TLS certificates can be purchased from external vendors and must be renewed usually after one year.
When it comes to remote file sharing and messaging, you can use a private messenger app such as Signal. Doing so will prevent hackers from accessing your private messages with employees, clients, and potential business partners. Lastly, encryption can be used for backups stored in physical devices such as hard drives, but this is purely optional.