Data safety is as important as ever in the digital age. The ability to save, access, and transfer data electronically certainly makes life easier, but it also makes that data vulnerable to attacks. A simple misstep could mean that valuable and even confidential information may end up in the wrong hands. Recently Symantec released an infographic of the Top 10 Surefire Ways to Lose Your Data. Use the list of Dos and Don’ts to evaluate your business’s data safety shortcomings, and immediately take the steps to correct the problems.
Many of the items on the list have to do with not using technology safely. For example, never use a USB drive that you find lying around, as it may contain malware (#10) and make sure to keep your smartphone or tablet safe by using a screen lock (#7). Without it, unauthorized users can gain access to your data and networks. Data safety is also a huge concern when sending data over the internet. Don’t use free unsecured Wi-Fi (for example, at the airport) to send confidential files because you never know who else is lurking on the connection, and if you need to send confidential data to your home or personal email, always encrypt it to keep it safe (#4). Finally, a basic aspect of data safety is always backing up your data right away (#2). In a typical outage, small businesses lose 52 percent productivity and 29 percent revenue because they didn’t back up their data.
Other data safety issues on the Top 10 list are about not playing it safe with strangers, where “strangers” refers not only to unknown people, but also to unknown apps and emails. Announcing when you’re out of the office (#9) is a way of telling cyber criminals that your computer is ready for attack, and becoming friends with people you don’t know on Facebook (#8) is unwise because strangers can spread viruses, spam and attempt other forms of fraud. When it comes to apps, be aware of the risk for malware (#6). Only get apps from legitimate vendors and always read the fine print before downloading. Finally, make sure to be careful with emails from unknown people or companies (#3). Fake messages may actually be phishing scams, aimed at getting your personal information.
In a class of its own is the #1 mistake in data safety – having unsafe passwords and reusing them for multiple logins. Using a password such as your pet’s name can make your account easy to crack, and you should never use passwords like “password” and “123456” which are the most common unsafe passwords out there. In addition to creating unique passwords that are longer and include numbers and symbols, you should also never write your passwords down. No matter where you keep that piece of paper, it is still too easy for an unauthorized to find and gain access.
As a small business owner you can take steps to securing your electronic information. Start out by taking a good look at your business and figuring out what sort of information you should be protecting. You can then begin implementing safety practices for each thing on your list. Start out by requiring strong passwords and encrypting confidential information. Get everyone on board by training employees about internet safety and what they can do to help. Finally, security threats and solutions change all the time, so make sure you stay up to date on the topic.
By developing good data safety habits for your business, you’ll keep your business information safe and gain peace of mind.