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7 Data Security Best Practices for Small Businesses

Having information on your clients and customers is important but making sure that any private data remains secure is absolutely essential to the health and success of your small business.

Many small businesses are simply unprepared for some of the tricks that hackers and cybercriminals use to extract data from their systems or to deal with the consequences of such an occurrence. Small businesses often mistakenly feel that they won’t be as big of a target compared to larger companies, so they don’t want to spend a lot of their IT budget on cybersecurity.

However, small businesses are often a more attractive target to hackers compared with larger organizations since their lack of investment in cybersecurity often makes them easier to hack.

Thankfully, providing better data security doesn’t need to break the budget, with many affordable yet effective solutions that small businesses can utilize in order to keep client and customer data secure. Here are some data protection tips to keep in mind.

Protect Any Data You Collect

Whenever your business collects data, ensure that reasonable security measures are followed in order to make sure that any personal information on your customers or employees is protected from unauthorized access. For example, if you’re finalizing a deal with a new client, you’re likely going to need to collect some information on them so that you can easily identify them as a customer in the future, communicate and collect payments from them. Using a virtual deal room is an ideal choice for collecting data from new clients, as it allows clients to log into the portal and electronically sign documents securely.

Have a Strong Privacy Policy

Your clients and customers need to be assured that you are protecting any information that you have on them. Make sure that you provide a privacy policy that they can easily refer to if they have any questions regarding what you are doing to keep their personal information safe and protected. You should post your privacy policy on your website where it can be easily accessed by your clients and customers and ensure that you are straightforward and transparent about the data that you collect and how it is used. Honesty is the best policy here; this will help you build trust with your customer base and show them that you value their data.

Understand the Data You Have

It’s important to be aware of all the personal information that you have on your clients and customers, how you are using it, where it is stored, and who has access to it. The more you understand about the data that you hold on your customer and client base, the more you will understand why a hacker might pursue these assets and the best way to protect them from cybercrime and leaks.

Don’t Underestimate the Threat

Many small business owners don’t believe that they have anything worth a hacker going after and that larger businesses are more likely to be a target because they tend to hold larger amounts of data. But, while it’s true that any business can become a target of a data leak, small businesses actually tend to be the most common targets.

Surveys found that around 85% of small business owners believe that larger companies are more likely to be a target than their small company but in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There have been thousands of cases where small businesses have lost large amounts of money or have even had to cease trading altogether due to cybercriminals.

Only Collect the Data You Need

Understand exactly what data you need in order to best serve your clients and customers, and avoid collecting anything extra. This is because the more valuable information you hold on your customer base, the larger a target your business might become. Avoid using personal information such as social security numbers for customer identification; opt for unique usernames and passwords instead. Two-step verification is also an ideal tool in order to improve security and make it more difficult for hackers to get into customer accounts. Consider auditing the data that you hold on a regular basis and deleting any personal information that isn’t pertinent.

Keep Security Tight

Whether you store customer data on physical hardware, in the cloud or a combination of the two, having the latest security software that is kept up to date regularly, and keeping your operating systems and web browsers up to date are some of the best defenses against malware, viruses, and other online threats that could lead to a data breach. Security software programs should always be switched on to automatically update when necessary, as the majority of them are designed to automatically update in order to defend against known risks, which are constantly changing as hackers come up with new ideas.

Educate Employees

Most of the time, it’s your employees who will be handling customer data the most, whether they are recording data for a new client or looking up customer information in order to help solve a problem. Because of this, all employees need to be suitably trained in data protection and be kept up to date in terms of best practices for protecting the information, to ensure that it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. For example, writing down customer information on a post-it note might seem innocent enough, but this leaves it vulnerable to being found and taken advantage of.

Employees should be offered regular refresher training and education on the latest fraud schemes and tactics and shown how to employ best practices, such as how to recognize and deal with suspicious links in unsolicited email messages or how to recognize phishing, both online and over the telephone.

Data leaks and breaches can be a massive cause for concern for small businesses, with many unwittingly making themselves a target by mistakenly believing that larger businesses are more at risk. The truth is that no matter the size of your business, keeping sensitive data protected and out of the hands of cybercriminals should always be a top priority.

Originally posted 2020-05-08 15:46:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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