Advances in technology have made it easier for hackers to find their way into computer systems that hold large amounts of sensitive data. As a result, most businesses need to be more cautious than ever before regarding safeguarding sensitive information like Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and account usernames.
Your company’s data security should be a top priority for your business; customers depend on the trust they place in you to protect their personal information. And while employees are often the weakest link when it comes to security, they can also be your greatest asset in helping you ensure that your systems are secure.
Tips to Safeguard Sensitive Data and Keep Your Business Protected
It’s essential to consider the potential impact of a data breach on your business and its customers, and what actions you may take should a worst-case scenario occur. You can significantly reduce your exposure to risk by following these regulations. They will not only safeguard your data but also boost your clients’ confidence.
Update Your Antivirus Software Regularly
Ensure that your antivirus software is up to date so you can stay protected against new viruses and malware. It’s also essential to use an antivirus program on all devices, including phones, tablets, and personal computers.
Install an antivirus software solution on every computer in your business. It’s essential to ensure you have the latest version of your antivirus program installed and that it is configured to download updates when they are available automatically. Additionally, require employees to install security patches for their computers and any workstations used by multiple people.
Be cautious when opening email messages.
Never Open Emails from Unknown Senders
These could contain viruses and lead to a breakdown in your system’s security. To further protect yourself, disable macros in Microsoft Office programs to minimize the risk associated with Word or Excel documents downloaded from the Internet. Finally, configure your email server to block .exe, .com, and .bat files from being transmitted or received.
Limit the Amount of Sensitive Information Stored on Workstations
The more your employees have stored on their computers, the higher the risk that a hacker will access it. Limit the number of documents and other data files they can keep on their computer by not allowing them to save anything directly onto their desktop and placing limits on how much data they can store in network folders. For example, you might want to allow users to save only two copies of each document – one local copy and one kept in a shared folder – before they’re prompted for further action.
Limit Physical Access to Critical Business Systems
You should restrict physical access when employees need to access susceptible systems, like customer relationship management (CRM) databases or point-of-sale (POS) terminals. If employees need to be on the premises at all times, consider using security guards or limiting access to specific entrances or exit doors. You might also want to invest in safes for storing removable hard drives and flash drives containing sensitive data.
Password-Protect or Encrypt Any Portable Devices
If your employees can access work systems remotely, you should require them to use two-factor authentication for added security. This will help protect your data if the password is compromised. You should also password-protect or encrypt any removable media containing sensitive information, including external hard drives and USB thumb drives. It may be a good idea to configure user permissions, so users can’t download files onto their computers from shared folders on servers – even though they have been given read-only access to these folders.
Secure any servers that contain customer information by configuring user permissions so only users who need access can log in to your network. This will help minimize unauthorized parties’ ability to gain access if a workstation is compromised. Of course, it’s also important to require employees to use strong passwords that contain both letters and numbers, and symbols.
Put Off the Network if You Suspect Your Business is Compromised
Immediately turn off any servers that might be affected, including email servers and credit card processing systems. Do this before you begin an investigation. You will help minimize the number of times hackers have to exploit the vulnerabilities they find in your plan or steal information from it.
Of course, if usernames and passwords (which could be used during login) were compromised, make sure users change their credentials for all services where they use similar authentication factors (more than one). Once you’ve completed your investigation, report any suspicious findings to law enforcement immediately.
Train Your Employees the Dos and Don’ts of Computer Security
Inform employees about best practices to avoid infecting other computers or your network with a virus or other type of malware. Because they often have access to sensitive data, they must understand what information should be kept private, how to identify phishing scams, and where to report suspicious activity. If you suspect a violation has occurred, contact law enforcement immediately.
Stay Alert for Updated Security Guidelines
As new vulnerabilities emerge, you should continue to take steps to safeguard your business. For example, when Microsoft releases a patch for a security flaw in its software, it’s essential to apply the update as soon as possible because hackers frequently target known vulnerabilities that have not been patched.
If your antivirus or other software doesn’t automatically download these updates, configure them to download them automatically every time an update is available. The more up-to-date you are on your cyber defenses, the less likely hackers will be able to take control of your network and steal critical data.
Your company’s data security should be a top priority for your business; customers depend on the trust they place in you to protect their personal information. And while employees are often the weakest link when it comes to security, they can also be your greatest asset in helping you ensure that your systems are secure. By following these basic guidelines, you can help safeguard sensitive data and keep your business protected from hackers who want access to compromised systems just as much as you do.