Businesses big and small have documents upon documents of sensitive personal information on file. Whether it is personal information about employees through Human Resources and Payroll or information about clients like account data, credit card information, confidential contracts, etc. Just operating a business itself involves a level of sensitive information such as internal company finances, stakeholder or investor information, copyright or other intellectual property, or new initiatives and rollouts.
In the modern business realm, most of this personal and sensitive information has been transferred into the cloud as many businesses are getting away from paper documentation. Not to mention that cloud-based data storage and document management systems are arguably more convenient, streamlined, and efficient.
While cloud-based storage platforms are beneficial in many ways, they are subject to data breaches and attacks.
It’s not just cloud-based platforms that are vulnerable. Emails are also a common way that hackers infiltrate a company’s network.
Regardless of the type of data breach or attack, whether it’s a malware attack, phishing email, stolen or copied information, etc., they cause serious damage to a business. Data breaches cause productivity and trust issues internally and externally and can cost serious time and money to resolve.
Businesses also have an obligation to protect their employees’ and customers’ personal information. Many countries and states have even put legal requirements (and ramifications) in place for businesses that do not comply with certain data protection guidelines. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are just two examples of legislation specifically designed to protect personal data.
Businesses need to be aware of how to protect their online data and how to educate their employees on data security best practices. Over the years, we’ve even compiled a list of five easy ways for businesses to think about protecting their data:
1. Create a company expectation around and use strong passwords
While this one might sound obvious, sometimes the best defense against a hacker is making it hard for them to access things in the first place. Many companies use password manager software that generates ongoing and strong random passwords that change. Other companies have password guidelines for employees such as passwords must contain 14 characters and be a mix of uppercase letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.
2. Install and use multi-factor authentication software for access to company files and platforms
In addition to a username and a password, multi factor authentication requires users to submit a unique special code or another type of identity confirmation because access is allowed. This is a second layer of protection for login security and can be used externally for member portals as well.
3. Use cloud object storage platforms that have high data security offerings and protections already in place.
Amazon S3 (Amazon Simple Storage Service) is a fantastic example of a third-party storage service that does just this. The S3 platform boasts one of the best data security designs of any storage offering available supporting server-side and client-side encryption. S3 buckets simplify cloud access and resources. S3 also has backup, restoration, and archive capabilities among other things. Depending on the type of data your business deals with on a regular basis, there are many levels of cloud object storage platforms to understand and research.
4. Create a company expectation around installing updates on devices.
This is another one that might sound simple, but staying on top of updates for the devices in your company is extremely important. Updates not only keep your device operating at peak performance and fix ongoing bugs and operational issues, but they actually help patch security gaps. Updates often include the newest software features, enhance your drivers, increase device compatibility, and improve security code. Having the most up-to-date software version on your device protects you from malicious software and actually strengthens the security of your device.
5. Employee training. Employee training. Employee training.
You can have the best intentions for data security for your business, but if your employees do not understand the basics and have buy-in your company will continue to be at a greater risk. We cannot tell you the number of horror stories out there about a huge data breach that came from some random employee opening and forwarding a compromised email that infected an entire company network. Ensuring data security is everyone’s responsibility, so setting the correct expectations from day one onboarding and investing in specific data privacy and protection best practice professional development is critical.
This also should not just be a one-time thing. Employee training for data security should be ongoing. This should stay on people’s radars so they do not get sloppy. Employees need to understand why data security is important, the effect it has, and what they can do to help prevent breaches and hacking situations day by day. There are many training service providers you can outsource for data security training opportunities, or this can be done internally if you have the experienced staff for it.