A top priority for every business owner is the protection of sensitive data and personal information they collect from their customers. Unfortunately, it can take time to figure out where to start when it comes to creating a robust data protection plan.
To help you protect your business’ data, we have compiled a list of the ten best data protection practices. From encrypting data to using two-factor authentication, these tips will ensure that you have the necessary measures in place to protect your customers’ details and your business’ reputation.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
1) Establish a data retention policy
A good data retention policy should clearly outline the data collection type, the time it will be stored, and how it will be disposed of. This helps ensure that only relevant and necessary data is retained and that outdated or irrelevant data is deleted or destroyed.
When developing a data retention policy, you should consider the legal and regulatory requirements that may apply to your organization. Remember that any financial records are kept for an appropriate amount of time according to local laws and accounting standards.
You should also consider the different types of data your business collects and how long each type should be kept. For example, customer contact information might need to be kept for a longer period than employee records.
Finally, your data retention policy should include detailed procedures for disposing of outdated or unnecessary data. Depending on the data type, you may need to securely delete the information or even physically destroy the storage device.
2) Educate your employees about data protection
Employees should understand the importance of protecting customer and company data and the consequences of not following data protection protocols.
On the other hand, companies should provide training sessions covering security awareness, acceptable use policies, and personal privacy expectations.
It is important to explain what data types should not be shared with anyone without verifying their identity (be it on PhoneHistory or any other online database, etc.) and how to dispose of old or unused data properly.
Your employees should also know how to identify phishing attempts and other online scams. Regularly sending out phishing tests can help employees recognize fraudulent emails and websites and stay vigilant against cyber-attacks.
Additionally, companies should ensure that employees know how to report a potential data breach or suspicious activity.
3) Implement physical security measures
Physical security measures are essential for protecting your data and ensuring that only the right people can access it. You should consider implementing a range of physical security measures, such as:
- Securing entryways and controlling access to your premises. This could include installing locks, ID card readers, or other authentication measures.
- Keeping computers, servers, and other electronic devices in secure areas.
- Storing confidential data in locked cabinets or rooms.
- Installing cameras to monitor any activity on your premises.
- Performing regular security checks and audits to ensure the safety of your data.
Implementing these measures can help protect your business from threats, such as unauthorized access or theft of sensitive information.
4) Restrict access
One of the most important data protection measures is restricting access to data and systems. Organizations should limit access to only those employees who need it to perform their job duties.
Additionally, if certain areas of the system contain sensitive data, you should consider additional security measures such as two-factor authentication or biometric access. Establishing a policy that defines user roles and access levels can help you ensure that users can only access the data they need.
Furthermore, implementing a permission-based system can help limit and track which users have access to sensitive data. This practice also helps ensure that if an employee leaves your organization, their access to your data is immediately revoked.
5) Use encryption
Encrypting your data makes it unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the encryption key, thus making it much harder for them to gain access to your confidential information. Encryption can be used on local systems and networks, with data stored in the cloud.
When encrypting data, you should choose a strong algorithm that is resistant to attack. It is also important to have a secure encryption key. Besides, you should ensure that your data is properly backed up and securely stored in an encrypted format.
6) Use strong passwords
Creating a long and complex password or passphrase is one of the most important data protection practices for your business. Passwords are the main way you protect sensitive information, so you should create passwords that cannot easily be guessed or cracked.
Make sure your passwords are at least 8 characters long and contain a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Having different passwords for each account or system is also important, as using the same password for multiple systems can leave you vulnerable to attacks.
7) Perform backups
Performing regular backups is essential for data security. It is important to create a plan to back up your data and stick to it. Make backups on a regular schedule, such as daily or weekly, and store them securely away from the main system. Make sure you test the backups regularly to ensure they are working properly.
In addition to backing up your data, you should also back up your systems. This includes applications, operating systems, configurations, and other software necessary for your business operations. This will ensure that you can quickly and easily restore any lost or damaged data.
8) Keep your software up to date
Software is constantly changing and evolving, and it is important to ensure that your software is up to date to protect your business from the latest security risks. Software updates can contain patches for security vulnerabilities and help protect against data breaches.
Therefore, you should regularly check for updates for your operating system, installed programs and applications, and web browser extensions.
Additionally, you should install a reputable antivirus program to protect your computer and network from malicious software. When installing or updating software, download it from a legitimate source.
9) Monitor activity
Monitoring activity within your network allows you to detect any unauthorized access or use of data and take appropriate action. Monitoring should be done regularly, and you should report any suspicious activity immediately.
You can use various tools and methods to monitor activity, such as logging systems, which keep track of user activities, and intrusion detection systems (IDS), which alert administrators when suspicious behavior is detected. You can also employ automated auditing techniques to detect changes in the system or data.
It is advisable to set up notification systems so that you can be alerted if any suspicious activity is detected. This way, you can quickly address any potential issues before they become serious. Additionally, review all logs regularly to identify abnormal patterns that could indicate a security breach.
10) Dispose of data properly
You should ensure that any data that is no longer needed or used is securely destroyed before it falls into the wrong hands. This includes physical documents, hard drives, and other confidential media.
To dispose of data safely, you should use a reliable data destruction service. They will help you destroy all confidential media and ensure that any paper documents are shredded or securely burned. They will also help you properly dispose of old hardware, such as computers and phones.
It is also important to securely dispose of any data stored in the cloud. You should configure cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud to delete files automatically after a certain time. You should also delete any files that you no longer need manually.
Data protection is an important factor for any business. Establishing a data retention policy, educating employees about data security, implementing physical security measures, restricting access, using encryption, performing backups, using strong passwords, keeping software up to date, monitoring activity, and disposing of data properly are all essential steps to keep your business’s information secure in the long run.