What you need to know about Data Security Solutions
May 18, 2018 10:16AM
What is Data Security?
Someone is trying to access your data…right now. All it takes is one area of your data left unsecure. Data Security refers to the measures that you take to ensure that ALL of your data is adequately protected against theft, loss, unauthorized access and corruption. The best data security solutions protect everything: your computers, laptops, servers, smart phones and office equipment connected to the internet (copiers, cameras, phone systems etc.).
Why is data security critical?
Data security threats are increasing at an unprecedented rate. Threats range from accessing and stealing information to malicious corruption of core computer functionality. Client files, account records, banking information, personnel files, project folders, software integrity…everything must be protected. By securing your data, you are not just protecting your valuable information; you are protecting your business, your clients…your reputation.
It is important to note that information about you and your business may be acquired from external sources (information that is “leaked” intentionally or unintentionally) and potentially be used to access your computers and other devices. This is another reason that data security is so critical.
Data Security Solutions
There is no cookie cutter solution to data security. But whether you are a home- based business with a single laptop, or an Ivy League university with banks of servers…you have an “enterprise” level of data and valuable information.
Think of all your data as part of a “system.” Software, files and operating systems are all linked in a complicated system of bits and bytes. Unauthorized access to one part of the “system” could potentially provide a link to other areas of data. So, all of your data, regardless of its security importance or value, is subject to theft, compromise and loss.
Your data may reside on multiple locations requiring varying levels of security. The desktops, laptops and servers in your office hold files, directories and software; you probably have mobile devices that interact with your office systems; your email application provides a portal to your internal systems; network server applications, such as an FTP, provide access from external sources.
Through social media (beware what you share!) you give access to some level of information. Web applications, such as online accounting, CRMs and industry specific cloud applications channel sensitive and private information between your business and external sources.
All of these “systems” have their own configurations which must be managed and protected with a failsafe Data Security Solution.
The essential parts of a Data Security Solution
Backup is the first, arguably the most important, step in a Data Security Solution. Ensuring that all data is properly backed up is critical. The worst thing that can happen is finding out your “backed up” data cannot be recovered.
Backup all your data regularly in a place that is it secure and in a way that it can be easily recovered. Simply making a “copy” of your data is not “backup.” Be sure to have a backup system that includes everything, including software and root files in such a way that even if data is lost, you can have access to it, and it isn’t compromised.
Antivirus protection helps you to fight unwanted threats to your files and data. This protection is extremely important and should be installed on every device including your mobile devices. The strongest antivirus protection is always recommended.
Strong passwords are more important than ever. Hackers are hard at work to discover your password(s). They are getting more sophisticated, making weak passwords vulnerable and risky. Always use a combination of letters and numbers (including special characters is even better). Avoid obvious connections to you or your business such as address, birthday, your name or any other personal detail that can be easily guessed. The password must be a
minimum 8 characters long. Do not use the same password for all applications.
Firewalls protect your network by controlling data that comes into your computer from the internet. A strong firewall protects your network from unauthorized access or usage.
Encryption of data is worth considering as an extra step of protection for laptops or confidential data. Encryption software codes information so that it cannot be accessed or viewed without a password.
Monitor your data closely Know where your data is stored, monitor how it is protected and watch carefully for any potential breaches of security. Software companies are also working to help you protect your data. Update your software regularly. Updates should include “patches” that fix bugs, improve performance and enhance security. Be sure your antivirus software and firewalls are up to date. Monitor who has access to your data. Change your passwords regularly.
Play it safe It is easy to click on an email attachment that seems harmless, and unwittingly end up with malicious files planted on your computer. Always be aware of the areas of vulnerability, and surf the internet safely.
Scan your computer and network regularly. Investigate any violation of your system and get it resolved immediately.
Recovery If your Data Security Solution incorporates all of the above, you’re pretty safe. The one last critical piece is a recovery plan. In the event that you are hacked, or lose data, you need to have a plan in place to recover your data as
completely, efficiently and as expeditiously as possible. A Recovery Plan will help you avoid unnecessary downtime and expense. This step is so important that we have a separate paper dedicated to Recovery.
Test it IT professionals will tell you that the best “plans” fail because the plan is not tested. When your security plan is in place, test it. Then retest it periodically. Establish schedules and processes and make it a part of your regular business routines. This is just as important for a one-computer home based business as it is for an enterprise.
When do you need professional IT support?
Data security is increasingly more time consuming to manage, and more difficult to ensure. IT professionals will help you analyze, plan, test and implement a backup and security plan that is best suited to your business.
Depending on your specific requirements, an IT professional can help you develop, manage, and protect your entire “system” of data. Without getting into too much detail, there are aspects of security with which IT professionals are especially helpful: 24-hour monitoring, software compliance issues, password protection strategies, software updates, software patches, malware protection, firewall configuration, authentication and authorization, user and administrator accounts, privilege management, security partitioning, vendor compliance, data sharing and storage encryption, data recovery…just to name a few.
Your data security is in your hands. With a carefully planned, tested and monitored Data Security Solution, it will be very difficult for anyone to “compromise” your valuable business data. Have the peace of mind knowing that you are minding your own business.