It’s midnight–Do you know where your data is? Or a better question is: Do you know who has access to it? If you’re like most small businesses, you have no idea if your data is actually secure. Thankfully that’s easy to remedy.
Cloud storage is an outsourced solution for storing data; rather than keeping data on local hard-drives, data is stored and accessed through Internet connected servers. Cloud storage solves a variety of problems, particularly for small businesses. From cost-effectiveness to remote accessibility anywhere you have an internet connection, cloud storage is a fantastic tool.
Many users use cloud storage without even thinking about it. Email is a great example. Most people don’t worry about saving emails to their devices because they know everything is saved in their inbox. In actuality, their emails are saved in the cloud.
Because cloud storage is so common and accessible, few small businesses think about the security measures needed to protect their data. No system is infallible and while cloud storage offers a higher level of security than in-house data servers, there are specific steps that you and your employees can take to protect your small businesses’ data.
1) Password Protection
While cloud data security breaches are rare, more than 40% of data security breaches are caused by employee error. A Small Business Congressional Committee found that 71% of all cyber thefts were committed against small businesses with less than 100 employees!
A simple employee training and regular reminders can knock out this huge percentage of human error.
Many employees write down their passwords on paper, which defeats the purpose of a password to begin with. A former IT colleague of mine told me that most businesses are set up to allow 3 and sometimes up to 5 or higher attempts to log in to a system or account. So if a hacker gets access to even a single email password, all they have to do is look up all employee contact information and proceed to test the password against every account. It might take some time depending on the size of the company, but the hacker will eventually find the correct email account without any red flags going up within your businesses’ security system.
Avoiding paper passwords is just one solution. Unique and randomized passwords also strengthen the security of your data. Your logins can also be set up with two-factor authentication for an added safety measure. Reminding staff to fully log out of any system, even if they are just stepping away from their device for a minute or two, is also a simple step for protecting your information from data breaches.
2) Redundant Cloud Storage
Normally the word “redundant” has a negative connotation, but when it comes to data security, redundancies help protect your files by saving several copies to different physical servers.
These backups protect your data whether one server is affected by a physical disaster (such as fire), or a security breach (such as a data hack) occurs on another server. If your documents and data are saved in the cloud, you’ll have back ups of all your information saved in several locations, so the loss or breach of one server won’t affect your business in either the day-to-day or the long term.
These redundancies make cloud storage failure-proof. And because the business of cloud storage is entirely based upon safe storage and accessible back-ups, you’ll know that any company that you choose for your cloud storage will constantly put resources towards better security. Disaster recovery is a major part of cloud storage, and you’ll know that you have that benefit built into your contract.
3) Data Breach Testing
Do you know how bad a data breach can hurt your business? It’s one thing to think a data breach could cost you some money and a few clients, it’s another to run a test and see exactly how harmful a breach could be. Simulating a data breach can help prevent attacks such as these, in addition to improving response time over repeated tests. You can quickly assess your greatest security threats and begin to take actionable steps to address them. Addressing them quickly is key, because unless a data breach test informs an action plan, it is useless. Regular data breach testing and appropriate follow-up will help your business adapt and improve your cyber security over time.
Digital Guardian just published a recent article breaking down the cost of data breaches based on a Ponemon Institute report; it is an eye-opening but helpful look into the devastating effects and extreme financial loss that comes with a data breach. The time and effort you put into regular breach testing will be well worth it when (not if!) you deal with a real security scare.
4) Prevent Data Overlap
While this is more of a “don’t” than a “do” step, it is an important one to note. As more and more staff turn to working remotely, there is an increased chance that data and information will be transferred to personal computing devices. A study by Cisco discovered that 6% of employees mixed up files between their personal and professional devices.
It is more important than ever to have your employees understand that accessing and saving company data needs to stay not just within the cloud, but on approved company devices. It may be convenient to save a backup on a personal device or USB, but the data risk is just not worth that small convenience.
Working within the cloud eliminates this issue because it reduces the need for employees to save project files or other work documents on home computers. For example, if you are working on a document with Google Drive, you can edit and track changes to your document and allow teammates to review your work without ever having to make a back-up on your personal computer. There is no interruption of work flow, teammates can work on the same document together, and you as a business owner will know that your small business data is safe because there aren’t copies of your information floating around on unsecured devices.
There is no better time than now to move your business data into the cloud. Tech Masters can help you make the switch today.
“A simple employee training can knock out a huge percentage of human error.”
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