5 Ways To Prevent Data Breaches

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DataBreachThere’s a good chance that you’re always investing money into new ways to protect your business and it’s premises. You might install CCTV cameras and state-of-the-art locks. You make sure you have insurance in case something does happen and you ask everyone to put laptops and valuables in a safe place at night.

What are you doing to protect your data?

It’s a problem that not everyone thinks about. It’s easy enough to think about the ‘visible value’ of a business and the physical assets that people might want to steal, and as much as it would be an annoyance if someone did steal a laptop or a phone system or a few monitors, it can all be replaced – that’s what the insurance is for after all.

But your data – just because it isn’t visible in the same way as the physical assets doesn’t mean that it isn’t as important or shouldn’t be protected. For some, the breach of data can actually put a company out of business – especially if that business holds sensitive client data!

Protecting your business means protecting yourself, your colleagues and your customers.  

Unfortunately for SMEs, data thieves do not only target the ‘big guys’, the larger corporations and companies, when it comes to stealing data, but also pick on the smaller companies.

How can you prevent data breaches?

Cyber security shouldn’t be about how well you react to a data breach but how well you prevent it.

Based on that logic, here are some tips to get you started on preventing a data breach:

1) Train your staff – Where possible, send your staff on cyber security training courses, so you can rely on their capabilities to keep the company’s data safe. A ‘healthy’ habit your employees should have is to regularly change their passwords – this might be based on a monthly prompt to do so.

Employees should also beware of phishing scams. These can be particularly easy to mistake for real emails as they often look like they come from credible sources. Always check the actual email address and if you think there is anything strange about the email or what it is asking, don’t click any links and call the company that allegedly sent it to check if it’s legitimate.

2) Update your computers – Although it may seem time consuming and sometimes costly, it is always better to prevent than to cure. Having the latest version of a program gives you more security than running an out-of-date version. If you are a smaller company, you may not have an IT department or IT Manager as such but it is a good idea to have someone on the team trained in the basics of IT management. This just means they can help with installing updates and making sure and software is up to date. This information can also be found online for most software.

3) Wi-Fi – Another important element of security is the Wi-Fi. You can keep your computers up-to-date, have employees trained in cyber security, but if the Wi-Fi isn’t secure, you’re still giving the cyber criminal a key to get through the door. Where possible, keep your Service Set Identifier (SSID) hidden so your network name is hidden and always remember to update passwords regularly in the same way you would for a computer or software.

4) Mobile devices – Mobile devices can be easy to forget about. As much as we still think of them as our phones that do everything, they are basically pocket computers. They can store data in the same way a computer can and they can be breached in the same way a computer can. 

Working from home or on the go in coffee shops, hotels, trains etc. is becoming the norm. As technology and the Internet has allowed us to become mobile but still be able to work in the same way we would in an office, there is an increasing danger of data breaches and cyber crime.

If you are a company that has remote workers, something you could do is to create a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that your employees can access instead of connecting to public Wi-Fi, which isn’t always secure.  Encrypting sensitive data and changing the passwords regularly is another thing you can do to minimise the risk of a breach when yourself or colleagues are working away from the office.

5) Be careful what you download – It might sound really obvious but you have to be careful what you download. Sometimes this might mean enforcing strict policies on where staff can download apps, data and software from, but it only takes one dodgy download for a data breach to occur.

Whilst you can’t always prevent a data breach, there are ways you can help yourself and the company stay up and running when hit by cyber crime. Make sure you back up everything, either onto an external drive of some sort or onto a cloud based storage. Insurance is another option to help you recover from the damage caused by a data breach.

Data breaches and these tips on how to prevent it are only a small part of a much bigger picture. If you are looking to find out more about cyber security and preventing cyber crime from hitting your business, feel free to contact us to talk about the options. You can also come and talk to Concert at the upcoming Cyber Security Conference 2015.