When you look at all the ways that your data can be placed at risk, it can be pretty discouraging. Data is at risk from bad actors, failed hardware, human error and external events largely beyond anyone’s control. However, there are a range of solutions, some of which can be money-saving, that can help mitigate risk. Below are five key areas as an encouraged starting point.
- Employee training – This one is critical. Your employees remain the first line of defense against cyber criminals. Teaching them proper data hygiene is important. No matter how big or small or the line of business, every organization should have ongoing training that identifies possible risks employees face. Have your experienced IT Director, or a reputable MSP, discuss how to identify phishing scams and, if they have suspicions, never open a link they receive in an email. Looking at the URL of any site they visit via a link can be a real tip-off to a “spoofed” site. Some larger firms have even gone so far as to send out “faked” phishing emails to their employees as a teaching tool. They identify who opened them and send along additional tips to ID scams. Also, password policies should be put into place as well as rules forbidding the sharing of passwords. If you’re interested in more information on educating your employees on cybersecurity training, contact us today. We would be happy to help!
- Cloud Storage – While many business owners may feel their data is safer protected on-site, that may not be true. Using cloud storage for your data can resolve several of the threats discussed above.
- Backups and hardware failures – With cloud storage, you eliminate the need for a great deal of onsite hardware for storage. Hardware that you don’t have can’t break.
- Access during a major disaster – When you select a cloud storage solution, you create redundancy. Rather than stored onsite hardware, which is vulnerable to any number of events, all of your data is stored on redundant servers, most likely at dual locations around a very wide geographic region. If there is a hardware failure, natural disaster or other major event, your data remains safe and accessible from an alternate site.
- Cybersecurity – Choosing a cloud storage solution could increase your data security. Huge data server farms have strong physical security, but they are also capable of encrypting your data, which is a level of protection you that’s not usually included with onsite storage. Additionally, cloud storage providers are going to be utilizing the latest and most sophisticated data protections available, certainly far beyond what a mid-size firm could create for itself.
- Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) – As mentioned in our previous blog, multi-factor authentication is a multi-layered approach to your data security. It uses an authentication process that requires users to present at least two pieces of evidence in order to gain access to the desired program. These proof if evidence could include examples such as: a question only the user would know, entering a code that was sent to the user’s email or phone via text or call, or verifying access through a third party app.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) – Software as a Service is part of the cloud storage model. Instead of purchasing a software application and downloading it to your own hardware, such as a desktop PC, server or tablet, you purchase a subscription to the application. The attraction of this model is that you are buying access to the application over the internet from whichever device you happen to want to use at any one time. Access to the software is no longer limited to the physical device on which it is installed. This also creates better security because you lose the responsibility to download new security releases in a timely fashion. This is all done behind the scenes for you. It also means you can access your data via remote locations. If your business location becomes inaccessible, you can login and use remotely stored software to continue working.
- Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) Policies – Whenever you introduce new hardware to your communications network, you open another access door. BYOD is very popular and can be a real driver of productivity. However, it dramatically complicates the job of securing all of the devices that can access your network, and thus makes it more likely that some crack in the armor will be overlooked. Consequently, you need a very tightly and intelligently defined policy for handling all aspects of BYOD. This includes not only defining which type and models of devices will be permitted, but also procedures for handling software downloads and upgrades, as well as lost or stolen devices.
Data security is important, but one main facet of data security is accessibility. Safe data is of no use to anyone if it becomes inaccessible. So, as you make plans to defend against events which could threaten data security; plan to defend against events which would limit the use of that data to conduct your daily business operations. Take a holistic approach to data from the perspective of the customer. Remember, anything which affects data usage to meet your customer’s needs will affect your brand, reputation and your bottom line. For more information about protecting your data in today’s world, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar on May 25th!