It doesn’t matter whether you are employed by a massive company, processing endless amounts of data on a daily basis, or a new start-up with only one or two clients, data protection is important and neglect in this area can lead to serious disruption for your business. There are a range of industry-standard data security procedures in place that are typically adhered to. This is a good start, but beyond that there are also data regulations and laws that you simply have to adhere to – if you want to avoid running afoul of law.
Threats to a business’s data security is not only a threat to the business. Commercial enterprises typically store a great deal of personal data – on employees, customers, and clients – and it is something of a moral imperative that a company does everything it can to keep this data as secure as possible. Luckily, the safeguards exist, and can be used to ensure business continuity where data protection is concerned. Investing in the right methods is essential, but there are also a range of strategies and tips that you can implement on a day-to-day basis to ensure that all data used and stored by your company remains secure and protected against threats, malicious or otherwise.
Create and Implement a Formal IT Strategy
One of the most important things for data protection is for a company to actually have a distinct IT strategy that can be referred to and followed. There are two things that this strategy must cover: how to protect data resources and the procedure to implement should anything go wrong. Simply keeping abreast of the law and investing in secure data storage is not enough – you need to also know what you’re doing, why you are doing it, and what to do if anything goes wrong.
To cover that latter base, it is important to have an incident-response strategy. For this to be effective, it needs to account for the various things that are likely to go wrong and to plan for them accordingly. This might require quite a bit of forethought and the potential risks will vary from company to company. For certain, the level of the risk will be proportional to how much data you will be storing, how valuable it is and where it will be stored. If you are making use of a physical data center, for example, there is a whole other level of physical security that will need to be accounted for in your plan.
It is important also to keep your plan constantly updated. Data storage is an area typified by technology that is being constantly developed and updated. As data security techniques advance, so to do the threats that they are designed to counteract. This means that simply creating a formal IT strategy is not quite enough; you will have to constantly review it and update as appropriate.
Fully Investigate Data Laws
Data laws can be fairly general and easy to follow – but they can also be specific to your business and the kind and amount of data that you store. In Europe, the GDPR is a far-reaching regulation that effects every company that stores any kind of personal data. Compliance with this may seem straightforward (it is certainly simpler than in America, where there is no single law regulating personal data storage) but the extent to which it applies to your business and the things you are required to do in order to satisfy it can be significantly more complex.
Accordingly, it’s wise to fully investigate data storage regulation and ensure that you are meeting the standards. If this proves to be a complicated matter, you can hire a GDPR consultancy service to audit your company and ensure that everything is above board. You can look here for DPIA GDPR assessment.
Protect Against Malware
We most often associate threats to the data stored on company systems as being the result of malicious activity and hacking. While this is certainly a significant threat and very often the cause of the most serious breaches, it should not be forgotten that simple viruses and malware infecting the computer network at a company can jeopardise the security of personal data. A simple oversight in this department can end up being a disastrous for your company. Malware can often accrue to computer networks and individual computers without it being outwardly obvious that this is even happening.
Protecting your computer systems from malware is not difficult but failing to do so is a very common oversight. Remember to apply a firewall. This is certainly not enough on its own (especially on a computer network within a corporate setting) but it does provide the “first line of defense”, as it were, against malware and viruses. After the firewall, it is good to investigate what PC protection software is available. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for so don’t go cheap in this department. Find computer protection software that protects against identity theft, suspicious websites, and hacking. You should ensure however that the implementation of this software does not compromise the overall operation and effectiveness of your computer system.
Conduct Background Checks and Create a Plan for Personal Devices
If things are going well at your business, employee numbers will likely steadily grow. As the profile of your business increases and the number of people passing through its doors does too, the amount of personal data you can expect to have to process will only increase. It is therefore a very good idea to begin to conduct background checks on new employees. Naturally, how rigorous these checks are will depend on how big your business is and the value of the personal data that you process. A small business is unlikely to attract many malicious agents.
Nevertheless, background checks can be an incredibly good idea. It is also beneficial to supplement this policy with a plan that moderates the use of personal and mobile devices connected to your business. This is simply because it is through such technology that breaches and leaks may occur. Have a clear and comprehensive company policy that ensures frequent data deletion from such devices, moderates the manner in which they are used, and regulates the use of devices brought in by employees themselves. This plan should include provisions for employees who work remotely. All of this will shore up your wider data security infrastructure and prevent data security breaches that could see your company run afoul of data protection laws.
Ultimately, data protection is a concern for any business of whatever size. Common sense goes a long way, however, and there is certainly no call for excessively stringent security where it simply isn’t needed. Nevertheless, data security should be on your mind from the get-go, allowing you to plan accordingly.