Data Security (or, Batten Down The Hatches).

IT Support small business Data InSecurity 3

The security of data on your computer – whether it be a single home user or a large enterprise- is of vital importance. For all the complexities and sophistication of the technological methods being developed to prevent unwanted data access, it’s evident that IT crime has the upper hand, and that the array of methods deployed to prevent it are just playing ‘catch-up’.

Based on the high-profile breaches of the past 18 months, the industry-wide overall level of ‘security’ doesn’t seem to be improving; arguably it’s getting worse.

This may sound like a lost cause to the ears of small business owners. But, in reality, it’s a blessing in disguise.

Because it points to the realization that humans are the weakest link in the data security chain. Which in turn means that you don’t have to be spending loads of money just to keep fighting a never-ending battle to ward off the incessant onslaught of data hackers. Training your staff is just as important in the battle for securing your data.

Paradoxically, it boils down to this: to minimize the risks of attack on our most technologically advanced systems of data protection, we still need to rely on the human element. At all levels of use of technological data, from the small business owner to mission-critical systems such as air-traffic controllers or financial institutions, the following simple and inexpensive procedures, if followed diligently by all staff, can greatly minimize an attack on your data.

  • Implement and follow an appropriate backup strategy for your data;

  • Maintain regular updates and upgrades of your software (including the Operating System);

  • Never open suspicious email attachments or download untrusted software from the internet;

  • When leaving your computer on unattented, ensure the screen is locked so no one else can get access. This is particularly important if your workstation provides access to your network;

  • Make sure your computer account access password is a strong one, which can’t be easily guessed;

  • Do not allow any application to remember any access password;

  • Do not allow access to critical workstations or servers to those that don’t need access. This could be as simple as keeping a server room locked to prevent unauthorized access;

  • When outsourcing IT support, ensure the provider can guarantee security and maintain privacy of your data;

  • Be aware of the risks involved in entrusting all your business’ data solely to offsite (eg. cloud) data storage locations. They are usually reliable, but never one hundred per cent;

  • Within a work-place network, make sure the file system has appropriate file permissions allocated to appropriate staff; not every employee needs access to sensitive business financial information, for example;

  • Wherever possible, make use of data encryption. This renders your data useless to anyone without the proper decryption keys.

Following the above guidelines, in conjunction with the standard software and hardware security features available on today’s hardware and operating systems will go a long way towards ensuring your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

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