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How to protect your business from data breaches and loss

In today’s business world, data is everything, so it won’t come as any surprise if we say that data loss (malicious or accidental) is one of the greatest threats facing businesses large and small.

Data loss can devastate a business! Diffusion Group carried out a study in which it revealed that 72% of businesses that suffer a significant loss of data cease to trade within 2 years. The financial effects are catastrophic, companies incur fines from mismanagement of information, they have to pay out to repair the breach, and are often required to set aside money for customer compensation. However, perhaps the most damaging aspect of all, is to the company’s reputation, if customer trust is lost, brand equity quickly diminishes.

Data breaches are nowadays all too common an occurrence, research suggests that as many as 78% of organisations have suffered some kind of data breach in the last 24 months. Furthermore, and disappointingly, some 60% of SMEs admit to not routinely backing up their data. The most common cause of data leaving the organisation is via malware, email attacks, and phishing scams (36% of this was either customer or financial data).

But how can you protect your business from this threat?

Install the latest virus / malware software across your company: This is an absolute basic requirement. Virus and malware software should be robust and current. All employee devices (PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones) also need to be protected by the same level of security.

Promote the frequent change of passwords: Passwords are less effective in protecting your business when they’ve been in place for a long time. They can be shared or exposed by sheer negligence, they can also be accessed and stolen by technological methods (hacking, social manipulation). Best practice suggests that changing passwords every 2 months or so is sufficient, but perhaps even more frequently for particularly sensitive information.

Create a data protection policy: Employees’ actions (non-intentional) can pose a significant risk to data protection. Make sure employees are aware of what is expected in terms of data security by creating a policy and providing training if need be.

Secure documents: Consider storing your data in secure documents. PDF files are particularly secure when it comes to storing and sharing information; they can be encrypted and protected by a password to prevent unauthorised access, copying, and printing.

Firm up the security of your print network and how employees use it: When it comes to security, printed data is just as vulnerable as digitally stored data. Once data is printed, how can you be assured off what happens to it? Printing networks open up the following risks:

  • Sensitive data being printed and unintentionally left on the printer
  • Printed data being misplaced or lost within the office or worse still outside
  • Confidential information being printed without permission

To overcome some of these risks there are a number of good print management solutions that you could deploy to control who can print what and monitor what has been printed.

For further reading, this article is particularly comprehensive – https://digitalguardian.com/blog/expert-guide-securing-sensitive-data-34-experts-reveal-biggest-mistakes-companies-make-data

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