It’s not much of a surprise that many new business owners and startup entrepreneurs pay little attention to data security. After all, when you are just starting out, you only have a few customers at most – and what hacker is going to be interested in a tiny operation like yours?
The trouble is, every week there are reports of another high-profile data breach, from the Home Depot hacking or the attack on Sony. And as the media focuses on huge corporations and businesses, it’s easy to feel like only the major players are targets of fraudsters and hackers. But this couldn’t be further from the case.
The fact is that every business – small or large – holds data that thieves want. And everyone is a target. So, if you want to avoid joining the stats and losing a lot of money – $3.5 million is the cost of the average data breach – then you need to start taking data protection seriously. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Organize your data types
While all data has value, some are far more valuable than others. It’s important for startup owners to segregate the types of data they hold. Customer payment information and personal details are incredibly important, for example. Whereas, instruction manuals and supplier invoice scans may be less so. The two most sensitive types of data are, without a doubt, intellectual property and customer data. If you do nothing else, ensure these areas are covered.
Install the best team
Given that customer and intellectual property data is valuable, you don’t want to be in a position where you are giving everyone access to it. It’s important to discuss access levels, controls, and to have strict administration policies in place to avoid problems. Sadly, it’s not just external hackers that you need to be wary of; internal data breaches are all too common, too.
Run first class data training
You can put a lot of work into creating a super safe system for your data. But if your employees don’t understand the part they have to play, it will all be for nothing. Make sure that you are offering rigorous training sessions on a regular basis. All it takes is for an employee to use an easy password or download something they shouldn’t have, and your entire system could be vulnerable.
It’s essential to backup all your data, to ensure you stay safe in the event of an emergency. Power outages, fires, and natural disasters are all a lot more common than you think, so choose wisely. A quick look at this Backblaze review reveals a few interesting details on what to expect from your data backup company. Data security is right up there, as you would expect. Speed is also an important factor, as it will save you time when transferring and updating data. Of course, every startup owner is concerned with cost, but shooting for the lowest price available isn’t necessarily the best tactics. You should weigh up other features, such as user interface and customer service processes. If your backup data goes down at some point, it is critical that you have someone on the end of the phone or on an email to help you. And paying that little bit extra will be a savvy investment if you ever have a backup problem.
Once your data protection is in place, never rest on your laurels. Anyone who operates in a technology business – which is almost everyone these days – needs to be aware of all the latest developments in online security and news. Bear in mind that no matter how often you update your antivirus software or malware protection, there is always a risk of a new vulnerability showing its face. The faster you hear about the next Heartbleed vulnerability, the quicker you will be able to react. Keeping up to date is an essential part of keeping your data safe – and your business will be at risk if you don’t.
Partner with suppliers
Finally, the systems you have in place with your vendors – automated ordering, for example – could be a wink link that is ripe for exploitation. Technically, a hacker could enter your provider’s network, and then use your shared system to get into yours. It’s important, then, to treat your suppliers just as you would any other part of your business. You should arrange discussions with them sooner rather than later, and also check the credentials of any new provider you intend to use.