Data loss can occur by any means. System or human errors, hardware failure, natural disasters, or even malicious intent — whatever the source, data loss can cause severe damage, including operational disruption or even financial losses. This is true for large corporations and even more so for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Given the high stakes, SMBs like yours need to prioritize data loss prevention (DLP). You should take steps to prevent data loss as early as possible when setting up your business or immediately if you’re already up and running
How can you prevent data loss?
There are many effective ways to prevent data loss that shouldn’t drastically affect your budget. Here are a few:
Create a data loss prevention policy
A DLP policy is a set of rules and procedures that define how sensitive data should be managed and protected. A well-thought-out DLP policy should:
- Identify sensitive data and define how this should be stored and accessed
- Implement controls to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data
- Include means of enforcement through employee training and disciplinary measures
After you’ve developed and implemented your DLP policy, make sure it undergoes regular reviews and updates to keep up with advances in data security and technology, as well as your business’s growth.
Educate employees on data security
Your employees are your first line of defense against data loss. When you educate them about data security best practices, you help them avoid accidentally exposing sensitive data.
Here are some things you can teach your employees about data security:
- Password hygiene: The importance of strong passwords that are not common words or phrases constructed in easily predictable ways
- Recognizing phishing attacks: How to recognize attempts to obtain personal and sensitive information or secretly install malicious software
- Recognizing suspicious activity: How to identify and report suspicious activity such as emails making odd requests or originating from suspicious sources
- Sensitive data handling: How to properly store, process, and transmit sensitive data to ensure its security
In addition to educating your employees on data security, make sure you:
- Conduct regular data security training sessions
- Construct easily understood data security policies and procedures
- Encourage employees to report any suspicious activity
Regularly back up data
It’s essential to back up your data regularly to minimize the impact of any potential data loss. You can use cloud-based backup services, external hard drives, or tape backup systems.
To ensure that you can recover your data in the event of a disaster, follow the 3-2-1 rule when backing up your data. According to this rule, you must maintain at least three copies of your data, keep two of the backup copies on two different devices, and secure the third copy either on site or on the cloud.
The backup solution most suited for your business will depend on your specific needs and your budget.
Protect physical assets
Your physical assets, such as computers, servers, and mobile devices, are also at risk of data loss, usually by means of natural disasters, accidents, or cyberattacks. You can secure your physical assets by:
- Keeping them in a secure location where they will be safe from tampering or damage by flooding or fire
- Using strong passwords and security measures
- Regularly scanning for malware that will try to infiltrate your systems to copy or corrupt your data
It also cannot hurt to regularly check and maintain your physical assets to prevent or predict hardware failure.
Use security tools and antivirus software
Statista found that between November 2021 and October 2022, there were over 5,000 data breaches that resulted in data loss across the world. In that same survey, Statista found that the data breaches targeted smaller organizations more often than large companies. This means having effective security tools to protect your data is more vital than ever.
There are a number of security tools and software available to help you protect your data from loss, especially from cyberattacks. Some of the most common security tools include:
- Firewalls that watch all activity going in and out of a network, checking that only authorized users and activities are passing through
- Antivirus and anti-malware software that block, detect and contain any viruses or other forms of cyberthreat
- Data encryption software that makes your data unreadable to unauthorized users
- Intrusion detection systems that warn you of any suspicious activity within your networks
By using security tools and software, you can prevent unauthorized access to your data and protect it from malicious attacks.
It also helps to:
- Keep your security software up to date so they can detect newly developed cyberthreats
- Use strong passwords and security measures for all of your security tools
- Regularly scan your systems for security vulnerabilities, as you never know when even the most innocuous email or regular traffic may conceal a hidden threat
By following these tips, you are equipped to prevent or at least minimize the damage of data loss on your business operations and bottom line.
If your business in the Tampa Bay area has suffered from data loss or you want to take steps to prevent data loss, contact predictiveIT today.