Data protection should be a top priority for small business owners. While it is common for small businesses to adopt basic back-up solutions, this bare-bones approach can result in oversights that leave data vulnerable. With constantly-changing technology that makes it easier than ever to keep sensitive information safe, there is no excuse for not protecting against a wide variety of emergencies that could lead to a loss or breach of confidential business data. Take all the steps you can to safeguard your small business data with the following suggestions.
Back It Up
Backing up your systems regularly is essential and one of the safest ways to keep your small business data safe. According to the SBA, businesses should back up their information daily, or weekly at the very least – especially if the business is fairly active in creating or updating files and documents. Many business owners are familiar with and commonly practice backing up their data to a physical hard drive or server. However, it is advisable to back up important information to a cloud server as well. Using an off-site server protects data in the event of a disaster. For example, if your back-up hardware is destroyed in a flood, you can still retrieve files and documents from a cloud server. Using both of these methods is a great way to protect against many unexpected emergencies.
Set Up Firewalls
While a back-up system protects data from unexpected accidents like power outages and natural disasters, a firewall can protect your information from malicious intrusions specifically intended to breach your system. A firewall monitors all traffic coming in and out of your network, and prevents malware like viruses or Trojan horses from accessing and corrupting your data. When deciding on firewalls, consider an appliance rather than software. Firewall hardware serves as a layer between the internet and your system, blocking malicious software before it enters your network. To take an extra step towards protecting your data, use anti-virus and anti-spyware programs to scan your system and check for any breaches that may have bypassed your firewall.
Limit Financial Transactions To One Computer
Use one computer for all your business’s online financial transactions, and do not use it for other online activities like surfing the web, checking e-mail or using social media. It is much more difficult for outsiders to gain access to sensitive information when a computer is used solely for online business transactions. If you are a business owner, it is important to review transactions daily so you can spot fraud sooner rather than later.
Run Virtual Servers
In addition to being cost-effective, running virtual servers can improve your data security. Server virtualization allows you to run several virtual server environments (like your email, database and web servers) on one device. Put another way, this technology allows you to run one server on multiple computers. This means that your work can be recovered and accessed from another machine in the event of a hardware failure.
Secure Confidential Information With Cryptography
It is essential to use strong cryptography during storage and transmission of information that is confidential. Cryptography methods vary, and choosing one depends on your specific business needs. The FTC states, “the method will depend on the types of information your business collects, how you collect it, and how you process it.” Common options include Transport Layer Security/Secure Sockets Layer (TLS/SSL) encryption, data-at-rest encryption or an iterative cryptographic hash. Regardless of method, encrypting sensitive transmissions is necessary and can save you the grief of dealing with a data breach.
The foregoing information is provided by City National Bank (CNB). Unless otherwise stated, opinions expressed are those of the respective authors and not necessarily those of CNB. The information is provided without warranty and no recommendation or endorsement by CNB is intended or should be inferred unless specifically stated.
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