Today, almost everything in life is linked to the internet, hence focusing on data security. The data you create is the most important thing on your network and device. Remember, you can easily install or uninstall applications, but it’s hard to recover stolen or corrupted data. Whenever your personal information is compromised, the results are often unbearable. There are lots of risk data stored on your phone, computer, or online. Some of them include credit cards, banking details, social security numbers, etc.
Besides, your business network often has details of trade deals, employee records, and financial transactions. Hackers understand the importance of this information; hence, the need to keep your data safe. Securing data is everyone’s concern, including small, medium, and large business owners. This article focuses on the importance of data security, tips to secure data, and being free from cyber-attack.
What is Data Security and Why is it Important?
Data security is the practice of putting measures in place to prevent unauthorized access to databases, websites, phones, and computers. It also involves all mechanisms against data loss, compromise, or corruption. With this in mind, no business today should overlook the importance of implementing information security measures. If you’re still in doubt, let’s look at some of the importance of data security.
1. Business Continuity
Today, it’s almost impossible for organizations to operate without data. That’s because companies make decisions per information on their database. Look at a scenario where this data suddenly develops wings and fly; of course, that’ll be a huge disaster for the business. Data security and periodic backups prevent information inaccessibility and loss, ensuring business functions and continuity.
2. Every Business is Prone to Cyber-Attacks
Many small businesses feel they don’t have what it takes to be targeted by hackers. That’s not true because hackers can take on any company, both big or small. Besides, small companies experience greater recovery delays after a data breach because of their financial limitations. Meanwhile, many big companies can handle the financial stress that comes with cyber-attacks. That said, good financial standing doesn’t mean you should ignore the importance of cybersecurity.
3. Your Data is Part of Your Business’ Asset
Owning a company also implies you own the business’s information. Such data include information about the company’s product and services, employee data, financial plans, client information, etc. You also need the company’s data for revenue vetting, risk management, and growth ranking. In other words, management uses the data to plan the business’ future. So, data determines how well your business fares in the long-term. This essential asset can enhance your confidence and level of commitment to the company.
4. Prevent Unauthorized Access
Currently, hackers are smarter, which means businesses that fail to understand the importance of data security are more vulnerable. As mentioned earlier, hackers can access your business data through smart devices, peripheral equipment, employee, networks, and website. Studies show that exploiters often target smaller businesses because their systems are easier to access. Thus, adding more security layers will deter them from accessing your systems.
5. Data Security Increases Savings
Data breach costs a huge amount of money per fines, legal fees, and reparations. Companies also spend money to audit accounts and repay customers who lost their money. So, securing data prevents unnecessary spending and allows you to save more for future investments.
6. Avoid Reputational Damage
Equifax experienced a significant cyber-attack in 2017, which affected over 143 million accounts, exposing clients’ personal information. But years after the company was hit, it still suffers a negative effect. For example, ‘Equifax data breach’ still appears as a keyword suggestion if you type Equifax. We believe the company has taken steps to prevent any future attack.
7.Prevent Job Losses
It’s quite common for top company officials to take the blame once there is a data breach. Of course, you can guess what follows; mostly, they lose their jobs. For instance, when Uber was attacked, Joe Sullivan, the top IT security officer, was laid off. Besides, the breach also affected the Company’s head of legal affairs, Craig Clark.
Since organizations rely on data to function, it’s essential to prevent data breaches, which causes huge losses. Cyber-attack has become a pandemic for the internet world; hence, every organization should seek ways to avoid becoming a victim.
Top 10 Data Security Tips – Ways to Keep Your Data Safe and Secure
Here are the important practices that will help secure data and protect your organization from hackers.
1. Update and Protect Data with Password
A weak password can make your computer or network more vulnerable and easier for hackers to get through. To be on the safe side, strengthen your password, and look for ways to protect where it’s stored. For instance, don’t always write your password, whether on a phone’s notepad or Excel spreadsheet. Remember, hackers could easily access your system if they find where you wrote the password. If you already have many passwords, use password storing software.
We recommend changing passwords at least twice a year to build a stronger system. Besides, make sure you don’t use simple passwords like birthdays, names, or phone numbers. Instead, create a long and complex password that’ll be difficult to guess. Remember, don’t share your password with people you don’t trust.
Always use a paraphrase method to create complex passwords. To paraphrase, choose a phrase that’s easier to remember, then pick each first letter of the words as a password. After all, make sure to activate two-factor authentication to improve your account’s security level. Sometimes, after locking your phone, you can go ahead to set a password for the individual apps. This keeps your app’s data more secure. Besides, the extra security level prevents easy data access if someone stole your phone or laptop.
2. Watch out for Phishing
Phishing is used to describe an impersonation attack. Here, the attacker takes another identity by impersonating a trustworthy source. The aim is to trick someone into giving out personal information. Many phishing attacks are delivered through email, bearing messages of distress or one that needs urgent attention.
In most cases, a phishing email might allege bank account issues and asks for you to confirm your credit card details. Hackers have used this method to scam employees of multinational companies. The way out is to educate your staff members about phishing emails and how to deal with them. Besides employees, people who divulge their personal information after receiving phishing emails often lose huge cash sums.
3. Back Up Your Files
Since you can’t rule out the possibility that your data could be corrupted or lost, backup is the best action. Besides, every organization should be prepared for a data breach by taking essential steps to prevent a total shutdown. Never fail to back up your documents, photos, and data to external storage devices or the cloud. Remember, apart from hackers, other technological glitches like a power outage or arson also cause data loss. So, backing up data ensures complete information access and your reputation untainted whenever an issue occurs.
4. Use Secure Networks
Many don’t worry about their internet connection’s security because they assume little or no threat might come from there. While home and work networks use an encrypted system, there are always issues with free Wi-Fi. You may not have problems if you only use public Wi-Fi for casual browsing. But the danger increases when you are accessing sensitive information. We are not totally against using public Wi-Fi; if you must, use a secure VPN to access personal information.
5. Encrypt Your Data
You might protect your devices with a secure password or update your system apps but not immune to cyber-attack. The purpose of encryption is to change your data format, making it only accessible for people with the key. Data encryption protects your computer information, shielding your messages and emails from prying eyes.
In other words, data encryption prevents third parties from accessing your messages. The system converts your data to a non-readable format until the end-user encodes it. Only make online transactions via encrypted channels.
Some apps like WhatsApp and Signal, available for iPhone and Andriod platforms, help protect users’ personal information. Still, Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader allow you to restrict access to individual documents by specifying the encryption type. File and Disk Encryption Systems on the computer allows you to encrypt flash drives, files, disks, folders, etc. Besides using computer and phone apps, you can use a VPN to shield your browsing information. That’s because VPN encrypts each incoming and outgoing data from your device, making it difficult to track.
6. Use Role-Based Security
Free data access for company employees increases the chances of cyber-attacks. Thus, using role-based security reduces the number of staff who accesses important accounts that hackers can attack. To prevent a leak of sensitive data, create security clearance levels, and assign employees to quit their jobs.
For example, a company member who is a sales executive can only access sales databases. Still, the Accounts Manager should access information that’s related to the company’s financial records. Most importantly, installing role-based measures prevents corrupt employees from releasing high-value company’s secrets to hackers.
7. Never Click on Email from Unknown Sources
Many employees compromise their company information by clicking a virus-infested link. Remember, links and attachments are the top ways that viruses can penetrate your system. Thus, don’t click on a link nor download an attachment if the source is suspicious or unverified. As a rule of thumb, be smart whenever you’re surfing the web. Watch out for possible vulnerability areas and avoid them.
8. Use Spam Filters
Filter programs detect unwanted messages, limiting the rate of phishing emails that land on your computer. Installing a spam filter reduces the chances of stumbling or opening an unsolicited email. That said, you can avoid huge losses if your employees are trained on safe internet habits.
Another effective data security strategy is to let your staff know what actions and decisions could sell the company to hackers. Most importantly, make your employee understand the importance of your company’s data and measures to secure them.
9. Monitor and Test Your Data Security System
Regular security checks like vulnerability scanning, risk assessment, etc., can also help keep your data safe. This proactive action allows you to identify security threats on time and measures to prevent their escalation.
10. Install Firewall and Antivirus Protection
A strong firewall is a must-have for your company’s network. It protects your system by checking and controlling both incoming and outgoing traffic. In other words, an antivirus is your final defense line. It stops any unwanted attack from reaching your network. However, don’t download security software from untrusted sources.
Meanwhile, installing these applications only makes sense when you take steps to maintain them. That means, patch your software via regular updates. Remember, applications are not fully hacker-proof, but using the latest app versions goes a long way to keeping your data safe. Regular program updates help you to know loopholes and tech issues that have been fixed.
Now, you can install tracking apps to help find your devices if stolen. But how can you stop people from accessing your files if your phone is stolen? There are security apps that allow you to erase your phone’s content remotely. They also enable you to restore to factory setting, removing your contacts, browser history, text messages, etc.
The Bottom Line
Data security is pretty important for our survival in an ever-competitive internet world; so, you should invest in it. Don’t wait until your network is attacked before you understand the importance of cybersecurity. Start by employ the best data protection tips while educating your staff on best online practices. Remember, protecting your network isn’t difficult if you understand the basics. The first step is to follow our leads. Most importantly, these tips won’t only protect your business from cyber-attacks but boost customer trust and confidence.