In recent years, data protection has become a must-have for all businesses, regardless of size. While big companies like Facebook, Orbitz, and Quora make headlines for data breaches, a more troubling reality awaits small and mid-sized businesses: according to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of them go out of business within six months of a cyberattack. 

Furthermore, the global rise of data protection regulations has added an extra layer of urgency to the need for all businesses to implement concrete data protection measures. Unfortunately, large corporations are often far ahead of the game, having developed and tested their cybersecurity policies over the last few years.  

Data theft and web threats are highly disruptive to any business, whether a multinational corporation or a small start-up. Businesses are always vulnerable to data breaches if adequate security measures are not in place. The good news is that when the necessary safeguards and data lake protection tools are in place, data security issues can be easily avoided. Here are five practical methods for keeping your company's data safe and secure. 

Identify and prioritize sensitive information

The vast majority of organizations have no idea where to begin to protect confidential information. Companies can prioritize which data to secure first by categorizing types of information based on their value and confidentiality. 

Customer information systems or employee record systems are the best places to start because only a few specific systems can update that information. Personal identification numbers, social security numbers, account numbers, credit card numbers, and other structured information must be protected in specific areas. Securing unstructured data such as contracts, financial releases, and customer correspondence is an essential next step that should be implemented departmentally. 

Create secure passwords

The more cryptic your passwords, the more secure against hackers and theft. The following are some best practices for creating secure passwords: 

  1. Please make sure they are more than eight characters long. 
  2. Use special characters. 
  3. Do not include parts of your name or ID in them. 
  4. Do not use memorable keyboard paths.
  5. Passwords must be changed once every quarter. 

Train your employees

Many cyber-attacks start with phishing, sending emails that appear to be from a legitimate source but are sent by hackers. These messages persuade recipients to download malicious files or reveal sensitive information, such as network passwords. 

Employees who understand how to spot a phish are much less likely to fall for one. In addition, workers can benefit from cybersecurity basics training to ensure they know how to prepare for common attacks such as phishing and secure the devices they use and safely connect to the business network. 

Make use of Virtual Data Rooms

Virtual data rooms (VDRs) offer a digital data management and storage solution. They are similar to cloud-based solutions but provide a more secure data transfer and storage platform. 

Consider using a VDR if the majority of your data is digital. They are becoming a more popular method of managing a company's privacy and security documents. Of course, you must pay a subscription fee, but you get more security than standard cloud storage. 

Secure Data Disposal

Ensure you have a secure method for erasing data that you no longer require. This will prevent anyone else from retrieving confidential data about your company at a later date.  

You need to do more than delete specific files or reinstall your operating system in today's technological world. In most cases, your information is still easily accessible via hacking software. That is why you should consider hiring an IT disposal company or using a tool that will overwrite your data several times and ensure it is irretrievable. 

Along with taking the steps mentioned above to protect data, organizations must regularly review their systems, policies, and training to ensure maximum effectiveness. Organizations can improve employee training, expand deployment, and systematically eliminate vulnerabilities by leveraging the visibility provided by monitoring systems. Furthermore, systems should be thoroughly reviewed in a breach to analyze system failures and suspicious flag activity. External audits can also be beneficial in identifying vulnerabilities and threats. 

Conclusion

Companies frequently implement security systems but fail to review incident reports that arise or to extend coverage beyond the initial implementation parameters. Organizations can protect other kinds of confidential information, extend security to different communication channels such as email, web posts, instant messaging, peer-to-peer, and more, and extend protection to additional departments or functions by performing regular system benchmarking. 

Protecting confidential information assets across an organization is a journey, not a one-time event. It fundamentally necessitates a systematic approach to identifying sensitive data, understanding current business processes, developing appropriate access, usage, and distribution policies, and monitoring incoming and outgoing communications. Finally, it is critical to understand the potential costs and consequences of failing to implement a system to secure confidential information from the inside out.