Yellow folder and lock. Data security concept. 3D isolatedIn their 2012 report, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners says that businesses can expect to spend 5 percent or more of their revenue on fraud recovery. Small businesses are the most vulnerable with the median loss to fraud averaging $140,000. Protect your business’s data and keep the risk of theft or damage to a minimum with these data security tips.

The Three-Tiered Data Protection Approach

Your company information can be in three states, each of which should have its own protection:

  • The data is sitting on a storage device such as a hard drive or in the cloud
  • The data is being used in an application such as when inventory updates are run
  • The data is in transit to another location such as credit card transactions put through to the bank

Your data is vulnerable to damage or loss in each situation so the security measures should address each case.

Basic Data Protection

The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests you start out with the basic system security measures in place. Install and configure anti-virus and anti-malware software. Schedule it to run nightly and to monitor emails, email attachments and any files downloaded for any suspicious content.

Install a firewall on your computer to prevent unauthorized people from getting into your system. Enable encryption on all of your hard drives so the data sitting there will be unreadable by anyone trying to take it. If you are using the cloud to store your data, make sure your cloud provider uses data encryption.

If you use a wireless connection at home, disable the SSID broadcast option so others can’t see your network. Use one of the better security protocols such as WPA2 instead of WEP, which is easier to break into. Create a network password that is harder to crack than your pet’s name. Use smart passwords, ones made up of a random set of letters, numbers and special characters.

Data Backup as Protection

Many small businesses neglect to do regular data backups. That can be a major problem should a natural disaster strike, as Biz Community explains. Even with the above security, you still aren’t protected from a fire or one of your children spilling a glass of orange juice on your hard drive. Regular backups, preferably nightly, will help if you have a major data problem and need to rebuild your system from scratch. Store your backups someplace away from the office. A fire will eliminate those, too, if they are in your desk drawer.

If you’re using the cloud for data storage and applications, make sure you have a backup scheduled there. You’ll also want to download the backup file created in the cloud and keep it locally. You’ll have quick access to your backups even if you can’t get in touch with your cloud vendor.

Data Encryption

When your data is on the move, you’ll want to always use data encryption so it is unusable should anyone capture it off of the network. Make sure that data encryption is working between your system and any other outside system with which it communicates. When you are working out of your office and using a public network (found at a coffee shop or hotel, for instance), use a virtual private network (VPN). This gives you a secure connection to your company’s resources. Plus it encrypts all of the data going back and forth.

A Second Set of Eyes

There are several ways to see if someone is utilizing your data for fraudulent purposes. But it’s time consuming to check all of your accounts, social media sites and credit report on a frequent basis. Using one of the fraud protection vendors from http://www.identitytheftprotection.org/ can help by monitoring the above assets, and saves you from spending precious time doing your own research. Catching fraud early is easier to recovery from than waiting until several accounts have been accessed and drained of funds.

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