Data loss can be extremely costly for small businesses, with reports estimating the total costs to exceed $2.1 trillion by 2019.
Adding to this, cyber attacks tend to target small businesses as they are less likely to have sufficient security protection in place. Accidental loss or loss due to a natural disaster can also be just as harmful as those that are intentional. Productivity can often be halted in attempts to recover what has been lost.
The following tips can be put into place to improve your security and minimise the risk of data loss:
Educate your staff
Often the idea of data loss is synonymous with the thought of cyber attack. However, almost half of data loss incidents occur as a result of employees, either not knowing how to protect said data or a simply guilty of being careless.
Therefore you should consistently make your staff aware of the importance of data security. Discuss with them the potential risks and restrictions on employee access to HR and all customer and financial data. Strategies should also be put in place to minimise such risks, including keeping files in a locked filing cabinet, restricting access to important data and being careful in the apps downloaded.
Make a security plan
No matter the size of your business, a security plan should always be put in place. It should outline their information assets, identify an relevant security risks and provide steps aimed to minimise these risks.
Your security plan should be updated regularly to keep up with changes in technology and company personnel. Therefore, another key aspect to include is how employee access to data is terminated once they leave the business.
To test your plan, regular audits should be conducted and staff monitored to see how they follow what has been set out. Following this you can adapt and fine tune your strategies to further keep your business data safe.
Include a device policy
Nearly all small businesses these days operate using mobile devices. With employees working remotely or from home, they often stay in contact via a tablet, laptop or mobile phone.
However, this poses the risk of these devices being lost, stolen or damaged. The potential for company data to be lost in these cases can be minimises by requiring employees to keep this data off any personal devices. Any specific businesses devices should also be set up to where they can be wiped if such an event occurs.
Other key security measures are data encryption, up to date anti-virus protection and tracking software – as well as a system of regularly scheduled, automatic back-ups.
A data security plan is only as good as how well it is followed by you and your staff. Take time out to meet and discuss security planning and address any questions staff may have. You should also be clear on the consequences if a data security breach occurs, should it be discovered it was due to employee negligence or outright theft. Finally, think about how you can reward your staff for the efforts they make in protecting your business and it's data by strictly following security protocols.