Any time a New Year rolls around, it’s a good time to reevaluate the way you have been running your business. Chances are you already do it. You look to see what made you the most money and what cost a bit too much. This year, as you are looking at your operations, don’t forget to take a look at your data.  

“Of course you are going to be looking at data,” you’re thinking. But wait. Before you tune out, that’s not exactly what we’re talking about. Instead of just looking at the numbers, consider how you are protecting them. Small businesses are the victims of hackers far more often than big businesses. Why? Because hackers know that small business owners often neglect purchasing or installing the protection they need. Here are 10 ways you can secure data in the coming year. 

  

  1. Back It Up

The most important step you can take is to backup your data regularly. But what is regular? That answer depends on how much data you feel comfortable losing. If you are okay losing a week’s worth of work, you need to backup weekly. If losing even a single day could negatively impact your business, you should be backing up nightly. 

While you can certainly use built-in Windows or Apple operating systems’ tools to perform backups, there are third-party applications that offer more comprehensive services. No matter how you choose to back it up, do it often.  

  1. File-Level and Share-Level Security

If you want to keep people from snooping around in your data, you need to set permissions for its use. You can control which users can and cannot access your files and folders. If, on the other hand, you are trying to protect the local computer on which all of your files and folders are stored, you’ll need to take it a step further. File-level and share-level permissions need to be utilized. 

  1. Put Passwords On Your Documents

Did you even know that you were able to put passwords on your documents? You can. Microsoft Office allows you to password protect any document you create, but the passwords are fairly easy to crack. In addition to protecting your documents with passwords, use zipping software to encrypt your documents.  

  1. EFS Encryption

All you have to do to encrypt a file is select a checkbox. This is to protect your data that is on a disk. If you send your file across the network, a person could use a sniffer to capture the data and read what is in your files. 

  1. Disk Encryption

Choose a third-party product that lets you encrypt an entire disk. Your data will be automatically encrypted and then decrypted when it’s loaded into the memory. You can encrypt removable USB drives and other portable drives.  

  1. Public Key Infrastructure

This is a system that allows you to manage public/private key pairs. You can also manage digital certificates. Certificate-based security should be your choice because it is issued by a third party. Your data can be protected by using a public key to encrypt it and a private key to decrypt it. 

  1. Steganography

This is a tricky, or not so tricky, way to hide your data inside other data. For example, you can send a message within an MP3 file or .JPG graphics. You can also send it inside another text file. With steganography, your data isn’t encrypted, but it is most often used in conjunction with that type of software. You will encrypt your data and then hide it. Think of it as double-layer protection.  

  1. IP Security

When you picture your data traveling through the network, picture yourself throwing a ball to someone outside. Any person could realistically jump in the middle and catch the ball before it reaches its intended recipient. You need to secure data while it’s moving. Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) is what you want to use. 

  1. Wireless Transmissions

When you send data over a wireless network, it is at more risk than when you send it over one that is wired. Anyone with a wireless-enabled computer can intercept your data. Store your data on a wireless system only if you have Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) set up. WPA is stronger than WEP, or Wired Equivalent Protocol. If you don’t know how to set this up, your wireless network helpdesk can assist you.  

  1. Rights Management

Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) allows you to protect data once it leaves your system. You can set up rights, example, for the recipient to read the file but not edit it. You can prevent the people you send your data to from forwarding it or otherwise sharing it. In other words, you have complete control over what happens once your information is in the hands of the person you sent it to. 

Protecting your data really isn’t as difficult as you may believe. Windows and Apple operating systems have many services built in — you just have to know how to utilize it. For the things that Windows can’t help you with, it’s easy to find third-party software that will get the job done for you. 

 

Rely on Company.com to Protect Your Data 

With Company.com, you can trust that your data is secure. Our tech support and other services can bolster your already-existing cyber security measures. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your small business secure data, and to start a free trial of our premium software suite.