The SMB owner’s checklist for data security

A business woman reviews her data security checklist.

Every so often, a media outlet reports on a major data breach affecting a large corporation and hundreds of thousands of consumers. But just because the media only reports on the large data breaches doesn’t mean small businesses are safe from being targeted. In fact, it’s typically quite the opposite.

Over 75% of data breaches occur in SMBs, simply because important data security protocols aren’t put into place.

And while virus protection certainly goes a long way towards mitigating the risks of a data breach, it isn’t enough. It only takes one click by a negligent employee to allow a cybercriminal to infect your computer systems and network with malware, or worse, yet, ransomware.

Follow this checklist for data security to ensure your company’s data is safe and secure.

1. Use virus protection and a firewall

As mentioned above, virus protection software is very important, but so is a firewall, which actually serves as your first line of defense against a cyber attack. Many computers already come with a built-in firewall, but it’s a good idea to upgrade to a stronger firewall, especially if your business collects and uses a significant amount of sensitive data.

Additionally, consider using cloud-based virus protection software. This ensures that the application is updated automatically rather than manually, ensuring that it is always prepared to protect against newly developed threats.

Note: Employees working remotely should also have virus protection and a firewall installed on whichever devices they may be using for work-related tasks. Managed IT services can help you better accomplish your security goals.

2. Protect mobile devices

Yes, your mobile devices are vulnerable too. And since more and more employees are utilizing mobile devices throughout the workday, you need to make sure those are protected as well.

Password protection, data encryption, and automatic security updates are highly recommended.

3. Educate employees

Even with various protections in place, a negligent employee can still cause a data breach or enable a hacker to infect your network with malware. Therefore, educating employees and instituting a strong cybersecurity policy is critical.

The following should be taught as part of your overall data security plan:

  • Educating employees about phishing email scams
  • No unauthorized downloads
  • Avoid clicking on links in emails that seem suspicious
  • Use strong passwords for websites and mobile devices
  • Do not engage in accessing websites that utilize sensitive data when on public Wi-Fi
  • Never leave laptops or mobile devices unattended

You can also retain the services of an experienced IT services team to provide more insight and education.

4. Backup your data

Consistent data backups can save you from a great deal of stress and save your company from a great deal of turmoil in the event of a data breach or data loss. Multiple backups are even better—at least one onsite and one offsite via a cloud backup service.

This ensures that even in the event of a natural disaster, such as flood or fire, you’ll still be able to retrieve your data from the secure offsite location.

5. Keep system software updated

Most system updates contain updated security to protect your data and your network from newly developed cyber threats. Make sure to install any new updates as soon as they are released.

Additional steps you might consider to reinforce your data security program include changing passwords every 2-3 months, using multi-step identification, and employ data monitoring software that tracks and reports any suspicious activity.

Remember, cybercriminals are constantly trying new methods, and with today’s ever-advancing technology, business owners must remain ever vigilant to ensure the company’s data is secure and protected.