When it comes to growing your business in the digital age, data is everything. You can easily gather sales and marketing information your computer and get valuable insights with just a few clicks. When this data gets compromised or stolen, it could harm not only your business’s operations but also its reputation. Unfortunately, the scary reality is that data breaches and other cyber-attacks are becoming more and more common. So much so, that it is critical to implement measures to protect your small business from data loss.
Data Breaches and Their Impact on Business
According to Risk Based Security, over 3,800 breaches happened in 2019. This is a 50 percent increase over a four-year period. A data breach happens when an attacker accesses your crucial personal and business information, steals it and uses it without your permission. The favorite victims of cybercriminals are SMEs.
In 2019, over 43 percent of cyber-attacks happened to small businesses, according to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report. In the 2020 version of this paper, about 28 percent of attacks were targeted toward small businesses.
These breaches and hacks cost companies a lot of money. According to research by Hiscox and Forrester Consulting on more than 5,392 professionals across the globe, cyber-attacks cost businesses of all sizes an average of $200,000. The breach hasdamaged their reputation as well. Customers and investors are likely to lose trust in businesses that mishandle their crucial data. This is why over 60 percent of businesses that experience attacks go out of business within half a year.
Cyber attacks are becoming faster and more effective, creating major problems for businesses big and small. However, only a few decision-makers care about cybersecurity, let alone have a cybersecurity plan. Don’t let yourself become one of them. You’ll never know when your business will experience a breach.
Here are ways to protect your businesses from data loss caused by such attacks.
1. Limit the Data You Save
A common misconception is that the more data you have on your business and customers, the better – as it gives you more metrics to analyze. However, this practice also gives hackers more information to steal and exploit.
Review all of your sources of data and find out which ones are essential and which are just for extra information. Take the extras out of the equation. And if you need to collect temporary data from your customers, make sure to dispose of them properly by wiping the drive they’re stored in completely.
2. Separate Business and Personal Accounts
If you’re running a small business or startup, you may think that your personal accounts for banking, email and social media will do. However, if someone gains access to them, they won’t just have entry to your personal information, they’ll also have controlover your business and customer data. Keep separate accounts for your business dealings.
3. Keep Important Data Backed Up
Having your business and customer data stored in your employees’ work computer drives can be dangerous. If attackers end up stealing that information, you have no way to get it back. Disasters, like fires or floods, can also kill your computers and drives, along with the information you worked hard to collect.
Create a backup routine for your business. If you’re going to use physical media, like flash drives or external hard drives, store them off-premise to make sure they stay safe from anything that happens to your office.
You could also use cloud storage services. This involves saving your data on an off-premise server. You transfer it over the internet. An example of a cloud storage solution is Google Drive. However, there are specialized solutions for different business processes. You can get an Office365 email backup solution, archiving for your business instant messages, website backups, and more.
4. Get Your Information Encrypted
Make sure the cloud storage service your getting offers encryption, too. Data encryption involves converting information into an unreadable format during transit. Only the receiver has the key to decrypt it. This way, when attackers try to intercept the data, they’ll be greeted with gibberish that even they can’t decode.
5. Install Hardware and Software Safeguards
One way to keep attackers from stealing your data is by installing a firewall. A firewall is a system that’s designed to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to your network. Your modem may already have one preinstalled, but it’s not as robust and updated as separate hardware firewalls. A hardware firewall separates your devices like computers, printers, and smart devices from your actual modem. It acts as a filter, only letting in authorized traffic.
You should also install anti-virus and anti-malware software for all your computers and your website. These keep your computers safe from common viruses and malicious software that attackers could use to steal your business data.
When it comes to how to protect your small business from data loss, the consequences are dire. Apart from causing you to bleed money, it can also cause you to lose customers. Use these suggestions to keep your company network safe from business-ending breaches.