Online security is more than an app…
Every day we hear of more data loses that affect our personal information. Our privacy and our personal data are at stake. Some data thefts on the Internet indicate companies and homes should consider more than just software protection. This article covers four basics you need to consider when trying to stop data breaches. They apply equally to home or business situations.
Stop data breaches – simple physical controls
Many companies, and home computer owners, forget the simple precautions. Locks prevent theft. Physical security is extremely important. Some companies have sophisticated server systems, software and equipment for online operations. Yet, they fail to even lock the cabinets where all this is held. Customer data, private company data, staff data and even important financial information can all be accessed by all the staff, anytime. Even the part-time cleaner can get in. Is everyone, and anyone, really trustworthy?
At home too, physical controls are essential. Are your back up drive and the computer are both on the same shelf? Plainly visible kit makes it easy for a thief. Nice target for someone to break in. Is your back up drive locked in a safe? Where do you keep your passwords, and how are they kept? Look into these things. They could protect you against data theft.
Physical security goes beyond locks too. Fire protection, local backups and off-site backups are all important. If you take precautions, when a thief or a disaster strikes, you will at least be backed up. Also, shred all your confidential paper waste. Don’t just put it in the dustbin.
Stop data breaches – technological and software controls
When you connect your computer online, or have a website, you need some technological controls to stop data breaches. Malware, software to infect your computer or control it, can be found everywhere. For most home computers the simple use of a quality branded firewall is enough. Contact someone who knows about security software and take advice. You should also consider virus scanners and other types of malware prevention. It is worth taking time to find out more. There is plenty of advice on the Internet.
Of course for business you must stop data breaches of any sort. So there should be a significant investment in protecting the personal data on staff, company data and most of all, customer data. This information is of primary importance to the organisation. Other companies getting this data could destroy your business. That is not to mention the loss of trust with customers. If their data was lost online, to criminals or malware, you will spend years winning back that trust.
For businesses it is important to also remember your legal responsibility. In the UK we have the Data Protection Act to protect personal data. You and your staff should know about the 8 principles of the Act. There are very serious consequences if you do not stop data breaches. Make sure you find out as much as you can. If your company holds data on customers then make sure you register under the UK Data Protection Act .
For data transfers and security situations consider encryption. When it is encrypted, data is more secure – even if it is stolen. The encryption might not be cracked straight away and give you time to warn customers or change critical passwords or other security.
Oh, and keep all your security software up to date. The use of great software is undermined by not regularly downloading updates.
Stop data breaches – proper procedures
For business, it is often procedures that stop data breaches. If everyone in a company does things their own way you can expect things to go wrong. Data will slip through the cracks. Make sure your staff are using the correct procedures and methods for handling data. Use clear and simple manuals. Have simple checks for doing things properly. These things help keep data safe.
Organisations dealing with personal data also have a legal responsibility. In the UK, and most European countries, companies must maintain procedures for data protection. If you have faulty procedures you cannot stop data breaches. And, you may have legal action taken against you by the public and the government. Even small business and sole proprietors may be affected by this law. Find out if you have a responsibility under the Act here…
At home too, simple procedures help you protect your system and personal data. Bank details, financial transactions, mail list, contacts and other personal data items can be online. These data can easily be protected with simple procedures.
If you forget to backup, encrypt, lock the computer or turn it off at the end of the session you are vulnerable. Make sure that whenever you use personal or financial data on your system you always back it up the same way. Lock it away too. Keep your data encrypted with passwords. Your password files should be encrypted and password protected. You should keep hard copies and software backups in a safe.
In business and at home if you always use simple and safe procedures you will find that it is easier to protect your information. To stop data breaches you need to take the simple step of setting up a clear protection procedure to cover all personal and sensitive data.
Stop data breaches – training for your staff and your family
Training is the final step to stop data breaches. Business staff and your family all handle confidential and sensitive information about themselves, finances, customers, friends and even other organisations. You should make sure that everyone is clear on physical security and why it is put in place.
Anyone dealing directly with data should also be aware that using security software is both necessary and very important. Train them in locking up properly. But, also train them in using security software. It is not just about showing them what buttons to push.
To be safe, do awareness training. Staff should know why the are protecting customer data. Family safety is important and they need that awareness too. Help everyone to understand the importance of the security. Help them learn how to follow secure procedures and why they are used. The best way to stop data breaches is when everyone knows the consequences of data losses and understands how to tackle them.
Prevention is better than cure to stop data breaches.
If you put in place proper cover for the points above your data will never be 100% safe. But it will be a lot safer than without these things. Protect your life savings, your business customer base or your personal information against data theft. The more other people know about you the more vulnerable you are.
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