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Cyber breaches are on the rise and increasingly appear in the news. Personal information is gathered and stored on computer systems more and more often, leading to a higher likelihood that this sensitive information can be lost or stolen. While businesses of all sizes are vulnerable to a possible cyber breach, smaller or mid-size companies with fewer resources for security may be even more susceptible.
Cybercriminals are continually becoming more creative and sophisticated, so it's crucial for businesses of all sizes to implement effective practices to secure data against cyber attacks. Preventing a cyber breach requires both a common sense approach and consistently practiced strategies to keep data safe at all levels of an organization. Here are three tips that can help prevent a cyber breach in your business.
The potential threat of cyber attacks has to be kept in mind at all times, requiring constant vigilance. Successful attacks often use social engineering as a way of manipulating people into divulging confidential information. Business owners should increase the awareness of their staff for this possibility to be alert for unexpected emails or contacts that seem suspicious. Businesses should take precautions to ensure that employees only have access to the information needed to do their jobs effectively.
A written policy about data security should be established and communicated to all employees along with periodic updates. Training all employees about what data is sensitive and confidential along with their role in protecting this data is a meaningful way to increase awareness and defense. Employees should consistently log off their computers, put away sensitive information, and lock their cabinets or offices at the end of the day. The training of all staff members to protect against a possible cyber breach should be an ongoing effort.
Limit Amount of Data Stored
Retain only the information that your organization actually needs in files and on computers. Information that isn't required shouldn't be kept. Store private data in a limited number of areas. Physical files should be stowed in a locked area, and only employees that must use that information should have access to it.
Limiting the amount of stored data needs to include procedures for safe disposal of information. Private information in paper files should be shredded using crosscut methods. Deleting computer files doesn't permanently remove them from the hard drive, so this needs to be done by physically destroying the drive or by using software that is designed to wipe a hard drive. Also be sure to destroy CDs, DVDs, USBs or any other device that contains sensitive data.
Keep Computers Secure
Procedures need to be in place to keep computers secure. Employees should be instructed only to use company property for conducting company business. Ensure that this regulation is followed by blocking access to inappropriate websites and prohibiting the use of unapproved software on business computers. Portable media such as flash drives, CDs, and DVDs are more vulnerable to theft, and only encrypted data should be downloaded to them.
Keep security software up-to-date at all times. Use firewalls along with antivirus and antispyware software, and be sure to update virus and spyware on a daily basis. Continually check your software vendors' websites to make sure you are aware of and implementing any updates to vulnerabilities and patches.
Involve employees with protecting company data by training them on encrypting data and on generating and using strong passwords. Employees should also know how to file and store data properly and how to avoid social engineering and malware.
For more information on how to save your assets in the case of a cyber breach, contact one of our independent agents.