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Give Your Small Business a Data Security Checkup

Give Your Small Business a Data Security Checkup
June 18, 2013
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Small Business
 It's National Small Business Week—the perfect opportunity to evaluate your data security health.

The week-long celebration of small businesses got its start 50 years ago by order of President John F. Kennedy. It gives a nod to businesses from Main Street storefronts to companies with 1,500 employees and revenues of more than $35 million.

It's important for businesses of all sizes to regularly check and update their approach to data security management. Here are five easy tips to improve your data security:

  • Limit mobile devices. Smartphones really are just small computers that have the ability to access corporate systems like any remote laptop or connected computer terminal. But they’re a whole lot easier to lose. One way to reduce data exposure is to limit your business’s mobile phone use. If tha's not an option, treat them like computers: Pick your device carefully, require encryption and user authentication, and control available apps just like you would full-size computer programs.
  • Encrypt sensitive data. Does your business handle sensitive data? Then database encryption is a must. Even if hackers get into a system, they can’t view encrypted data unless they have specific encryption keys. If your company issues notebook computers, which can easily be lost, whole drive encryption programs also are a must. It can lock out thieves, even if the computer is in their hands.
  • Train your employees. Your business is only as fit at its weakest link. Require security training and testing for your employees. Drill them on the basics of secure passwords, access controls, and proper data-handling protocols.
  • Follow a smart data lifecycle. It's tempting to want to keep client and employee information forever. But with that comes a risk—a costly one. Mitigate this risk by asking only for necessary information, storing it in a secure manner and destroying it when i's no longer needed. A smart data lifecycle—knowing what you need, how long it should live, and how to dispose of it—ensures minimal damages if a breach should occur.
  • Vet vendors. Just because you’ve given your business a data security health checkup doesn’t mean your partners and third-party vendors have. Vet, vet, vet any company that has access to your systems or employee resources. Only deal with companies that take their digital waistline as seriously as you do.

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