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6 Effective Ways to Protect Your Business From a Data Breach

ByVictor Snyder,
business.com writer
|
Oct 15, 2019
Image Credit: scyther5/Getty Images
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Cybersecurity should be a top priority for all business owners.

Cybersecurity should be at the top of your mind when running your business. There are countless cybersecurity statistics out there that show that a lot of businesses have fallen in really sticky situations because of a data breach. In fact, it was revealed that in January 2019 alone, data breaches led to the theft of almost 1.8 billion records.

Irrespective of the kind of business you're running, your business is susceptible to data breaches – and the consequences of one can be devastating if you aren't doing anything to protect your data.

Many business owners and their employees shrug at the importance of cybersecurity. They unknowingly put so much valuable data at risk on a daily basis. What they don't realize is just how bad it can get when hackers infiltrate their system and get a hold of their sensitive data.  

Imagine an outsider having direct access to the data of your business. It would be terrible for a hacker to have bank account details, trade secrets or even your personal data. Small businesses are often hit the worst when it comes to cyberattacks, as small businesses continue to be a common target for hackers.

A data breach is a threat that you have to continuously protect your business against. Let's face it: No one is totally immune to them, and those filthy hackers will stop at nothing until they find a way into your systems. Why do you think your apps, the operating system of your devices and antivirus software have updates regularly? It's all in a bid to ward off hackers by patching up any vulnerable spots.

Hackers are getting smarter by the day, but there's always hope. With the right cybersecurity measures in place, you can protect your business from any attack. 

Here are six effective ways you can achieve this.

1. Get the right cybersecurity tools.

What tools do you have in place to protect your business from a data breach? Not having tools that will automatically alert you of any potential dangers or of any treats is like leaving the front door of your home wide open in the middle of the night. It's a huge risk to run a business without having something to help secure your data.

Some of the common ways hackers get a hold of your data are through malware. When the malware finds its way into your computer it creates an inroad for hackers to get hold of your data or even paralyze your system for a ransom.

However, with the right kind of tools, you can make sure that malware doesn't come into your computer or any of the devices that are used for work. More often than not, a strong antivirus can do the job.

If you already have an antivirus, then you need to make sure you regularly update your antivirus software. Why? Because the software developers are always on a lookout for vulnerable spots in the software that hackers could breakthrough. By updating your antivirus software, or any other software you use to protect your data, you help block those potentially vulnerable spots.

2. Hire a cybersecurity specialist.

There's only so much you can do on your own to protect your business from a data breach. A cybersecurity specialist will take the load off your hands when it comes to protecting your data and ensuring there are no imminent threats. They will use their experience to identify possible vulnerabilities that will need urgent attention. These specialists will be able to advise you on the right steps to take in terms of boosting and maintaining the cybersecurity of your business.

You could hire an independent cybersecurity company or an IT expert to help you, or you may decide to hire someone in-house who can run cybersecurity checks for your business. Whatever be the case, make sure you conduct thorough research into who you're hiring to handle the cybersecurity of your business. They shouldn't just be competent and experienced for the job – they must also be trustworthy and have a good reputation.

3. Get your employees on board. 

You may be taking all the right precautions to prevent a data breach, but if you don't let your employees in on the possible danger of data breach and the steps you're taking to prevent it, then they will remain vulnerable targets for the hackers. Your employees are the first point of contact in your business. They're the ones who face the email correspondence and are thus more susceptible to phishing attacks.

Organize cybersecurity awareness training for your employees. Such awareness training will open their eyes to the risks they face and the kind of schemes hackers use to lure them to divulge personal data. Such training should also enlighten your employees on the exact steps they need to take to protect themselves and, by extension, your business's sensitive data.

4. Keep your business accounts and personal accounts separate.

So far, you're taking a lot of precautions to prevent a data breach. And that's good. But aside from having the right tools, the team and the adequate awareness to combat a data breach, you should also start taking steps to differentiate your business accounts from your personal accounts. 

Some businesses tend to keep both accounts in one place, and that poses a lot of risk from a cybersecurity standpoint. So whether it's an email account, bank account or any account that you typically use personally, you should start keeping them separate from your business. 

The reason is simple: The minute a hacker gets a hold of one account, they get a hold of everything that affects your business and you personally. 

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are carted away year after year through cyberattacks, so much so that it could even be the cause of a recession. For example, Nextgov revealed that the United States economy loses $57 billion to $109 billion annually to malicious cyberactivity. 

That is why cybersecurity is a major concern for small businesses. Separating your business accounts from your personal accounts just gives that added security at your end, because you cannot overlook the possibility of a hacker taking all you've got. 

If you've not done it before, then now is the time to separate your personal account from your business account. When you do that, try as much as possible to limit how often you log in to or use your personal accounts at the office. 

5. Establish good cybersecurity policies for your business.

You may have the state-of-the-art software, the best IT specialists and cybersecurity-conscious employees, but you still need to lay down the right policies in your business to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to cybersecurity. The right policies will ensure rules are followed and the right measures are being taken consistently to prevent a data breach.

For example, a policy like restricting your business's data to authorized employees lets you know who to hold responsible if there is a data breach. It's so much easier to contain, because you know who has the data and who is expected to exercise more caution.

Likewise, a business policy that allows employees to bring their own devices requires antivirus software to be installed on the device of every employee to ensure that hackers don't gain access to your business's data through an employee's device. This keeps you on top of the situation for protecting the possible channels through which hackers can gain access to sensitive data.

6. Back up your data.

As much as you try to ensure your data is protected, it's always good to play it safe and back up your data. This will help guard against any possibility of your data being compromised. Although you are taking all the necessary precautions to prevent a data breach, it's also good to make sure you plan against any eventuality.

Backing up your data will help ensure continuity. If you use an automated system to back up your data, you ensure that the data you have in your remote server is up to date.

Your data is so important that you need to guard it religiously. Sadly, hackers will do all they can to poke at the weak spots in your system or how you run your business in order to compromise your data.

It's such a relief to know that with some investment, little tweaks to your system, training and your employees' involvement, you can drastically reduce the chances of a data breach.

Victor Snyder
Victor Snyder
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A Florida native, Victor G. Snyder has served as a consulting business coach since 2003. He founded BossMakers in 2014, empowering entrepreneurs to filter out the noise, achieve flow and tackle the challenges that will get them where they want to be – ultimately, to own success.
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