Data is the lifeblood of small businesses. Keeping your data protected and accessible should be one of your most important considerations.
Identifying and organizing your data, backing it up and securing it need to be top priorities for any small business owner. Successfully implementing these tasks will be vital to the operation of your business.
Identify the sensitive information that should be protected within your business. Some examples of sensitive information typically held by businesses include:
Make note of which computers, laptops, mobile or storage devices hold these records. Remember to include any paper-based data records.
Try to store the most sensitive information on the least possible number of computers, while isolating it from your less sensitive data.
The fewer copies of sensitive data accessible, the easier it is to protect it. The amount of money and time you spend safeguarding data depends on how important data is to your business, and how likely you are to suffer data loss.
As a small business owner, you need to know what data you store and use, so you can evaluate the risks.
Small businesses produce a lot of data over time, which should be well organized for easy retrieval. Some fundamental questions to ask yourself when organizing your data may be:
Make a thorough list of the data that’s stored in your business. For each type of data you need to know:
You can use this information to determine risks and possible weaknesses in the way your business administers data.
Protecting your business data involves a balance between convenience and security. If data is conveniently available to staff, there’s a risk of it not being secure enough. Conversely, too much security may make it harder for staff to do their jobs.
To achieve a workable balance, test out different security options and ask your staff what they think.
Your staff can’t change or accidentally delete data if they can’t view it. Consider only giving them access to the data they need by:
Having high-quality anti-virus and anti-spyware software in place on all your systems can notably reduce the risks of data theft. With new threats continually appearing, it’s important to protect your business with the best software available.
Just as significant is making sure you have the latest version or update.
Keeping your network safe has to be a top priority. Start by double-checking all wireless and network connections are password protected. Resist the urge to write passwords on paper and consider making one staff member responsible for password security.
Encrypting your network is the most important security measure. Working behind a firewall is also essential for checking any data requests sent to your network.
Back up your data to ensure it’s recoverable. This is a critical task for all small businesses. Some possibilities to seriously consider include:
If the worst happens, you’ll be relieved to have set up an effective back-up procedure that can recover your data. Remember to keep back-ups secure by encrypting your data and storing discs somewhere safe. Furthermore, test your back-up procedures regularly.
Be careful with data stored on external devices, for instance a USB flash drive. If the device is misplaced, it could be easily lost.
Engage your staff in the creation of these procedures. Communicate to them the policies and practices that cover storage and usage of data within your business.
Following an initial full back-up of your entire system, ensure you set up regular automatic back-ups. Most computers can be configured to do this automatically.
You could allocate a staff member the job of:
Now that your data is protected, make it accessible for staff who really need it.
Your business may generate a lot of files quickly. How can you access your files securely from anywhere?
There are many advantages to using cloud storage, such as:
Accessibility of data may be necessary for your small business if staff occasionally work from home or regularly travel.
© Comerica. For more content like this, please visit smallbusiness.comerica.com