Today’s age of advanced technology means most businesses store important data on computers, most of which are connected to some sort of internet server or cloud storage device. Hackers, some with intent and some for no reason at all, like to target businesses. They may just want to cause chaos, but in many cases they are after money or specific pieces of information like social security numbers, birth dates, or driver’s license numbers. So what can you do, as a business owner, to protect yourself?
Regularly Update Your Computer Systems
Appointing a full-time IT person (or department) is critical if you deal with data daily. Establishing regular procedures to protect your company’s data will go a long way in ensuring your business – and your customers – are protected.
Operating system and software upgrades are time-consuming and, at times, seem like a waste of valuable work time, but they’re not. Most OS and software upgrades contain important security patches that have been found through trial and error and need to be applied to protect your information. These same updates also need to be made for firewalls and anti-virus systems.
Disallow Outside Media
Do not allow the use of outside technology unless it has been screened and authorized by your IT department. In many cases this means limiting or restricting the use of USB ports on computers and preventing employees from using their own computers or portable storage devices.
Make Appropriate Back-ups
Make sure your IT department is making back-up copies of your business data on a regular basis. Back-ups should be made to an external device that is stored away from the main server or computer system. You have a legal duty, according to the Data Protection Act of 1998, to protect the information your customers give you. If you collect data daily, you should be making daily back-ups.
Mobile Office Procedures
While it may be cost-efficient to allow employees to work from home, doing so may put your data at a higher risk of theft. Invest in company-owned laptops or computer systems for employee home use so that personal and business activities remain completely separated. Have a procedure for regular anti-virus scanning and the back-up of any files stored on the computer itself.
Talk to Your Insurance Agent
Talk to your insurance professional about your use of technology and the importance of the data you store on a daily basis. Your agent will be able to discuss options so that you are well protected in case of a breach of your systems and data. The increases in Data Breach and Cybercrime issues have led to a range of new options for insurance coverage. Often times, depending on the business type, coverage is very affordable and be included right on your normal business insurance policy. Cybercrime can cost businesses millions of dollars in lost hours, lost business, and actual theft. Find out what changes you might be able to make to your business insurance policies to help you get back on your feet faster, or to recover some of your loss, if you do become a victim.