Ways to keep confidential business data secure

securityIt’s a fact of life that businesses find themselves a target for criminals. Companies have access to money but also the confidential data of the clients and customers – the sort of thing that fraudsters are eager to get their hands on an exploit.

The threat to this data has always existed, but it’s even more pronounced in a digital day and age – with businesses needing to be wary of the offline and online risks that are posed to their confidential data.

Here’s what business should do to tackle these risks:

Control access: Who can see your data? Make a list of the people within your business that need to be able to access this as part of their job and ensure that only they can see it. The more you tightly control access the lower the possibility that things can go wrong.

Anti-virus software: Anti-virus software is a must for your business. This will scan your systems to detect and repel most threats you will face. Operating without this is the equivalent of leaving the front door to your home wide open overnight – it’s not smart. Download a decent package and make sure it’s regularly updated so it has information on the newest threats used by hackers.

Encryption: Encrypting your data adds another level of security. It might mean, for example that even if someone is able to get your data that it is useless to them and mitigates the impact to your business.

Strong passwords: While encryption is all about making it hard for hackers when they’ve got your data, you also want to make it hard for them to get it in the first place. Making sure you have a robust password regime is crucial, therefore, so that criminals can’t easily bypass your defenses. Make sure everyone changes their passwords often and knows how to write hard-to-hack passwords in the first place. Similarly, pass codes to enter locked doors or safes should also be changed on a semi-regular basis.

Training: Issues with passwords – and encryption – should be aided with a little training. Make sure all staff understand the part they play in protecting confidential data – you’re only as strong as your weakest link after all. Hold sessions that look at how to spot common online threats too.

Protect your paperwork: Amid the raft of online dangers you face, it’s easy to forget that the offline threats that still need to be protected against. Make sure that any paperwork containing confidential documents is safely stored away in a lockable container and be careful when sending paperwork in the post. For example, using check window envelopes can ensure that you don’t give away account details of customers by mistake.

Above all else, you need to take data security seriously. Make it a priority, address all of the steps above and prevent an incident that could have disastrous consequences for your business. You might even want to task an individual or team with responsibility for taking a lead on this to ensure that complacency doesn’t kick in.