The Importance of Data Theft Prevention in Small businesses
When it comes to cyber attacks, all businesses are at risk. However, small businesses are particularly common victims. In fact, 50% of today’s cyber attacks target small businesses. Because small business owners commonly fail to put in proper security measures to protect private data, they make ideal targets for hackers.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to decrease the risk of being a victim of major data loss or theft. This article is going to serve as a guide for small business owners on ways to prevent data loss and left.
Why is Data Loss Prevention Important?
For all companies, big and small, data loss prevention should be a high priority. Confidential data is typically stored in computers. And while this is more secure than paper documents, hackers can access this data as it moves through the network of access points within a company’s computer system.
The data companies store within their computer system can vary in importance. Some of the information companies need to keep secure may include things like:
- Product design documents
- Price and customer lists
- Financial documents and statements
- Employee data
- Social security numbers
- Customer credit card numbers
If any of this information is lost or stolen, the hackers can use it to access customers’ bank accounts or use it in other harmful ways. Regardless of what information is stolen or lost, this means bad news for the business. Not only will it harm the company’s reputation, but it could lead to lawsuits and other financial responsibilities for the company. Unfortunately, many companies are not able to recover after a cyber attack.
Common Causes of Data Loss and Theft
There are multiple ways that hackers or those will ill intent can access company data. And it’s important for companies to remember that not all data theft is done through cyber attacks. Oftentimes, it can be from a mistake made by an employee or even physical theft. Let’s go into more detail about the most common ways data is lost or stolen.
One of the top causes of data loss is simple human error. Mistakes can be made by employees that can lead to significant data loss. These mistakes may include things like accidental file deletion, sending data to the wrong person, improper disposal of data, and loss of unencrypted devices. While it’s understandable that humans make mistakes, even the smallest of mistakes made by an employee can cause a business to fail.
While every employer wants to believe each of their employees has nothing but good intentions towards the company, this isn’t always the case. Whether it’s a disgruntled employee or even a resentful ex-employee, cyber attacks can come from employees. This is why it’s so important employees are thoroughly screened and access to high-importance data is limited to only those who need it.
Not all hackers are cybercriminals. Oftentimes, data can be stolen when someone physically steals a device that contains sensitive information. Once someone has a device that contains company data, they can access it and use it to harm the company.
Malware can be used to attack computer functions in order to steal data and cause other harm. Because there is a variety of malicious software programs, it’s important for small businesses to put a heavy focus on cyber security.
Ways Businesses Can Protect Their Data
While not all cyber attacks are preventable, there are certain actions small businesses should be taking to protect their data from being lost or stolen. Small business owners should dedicate the necessary time and resources needed to ensure their employees and their computer systems are prepared to handle a cyber attack attempt.
Educate and Train Employees
In 48% of cyber attacks at small mid-size businesses, employees are the number one security factor. Unfortunately, many of these attacks can be caused by an untrained employee. Because of this, employees should always be properly educated and trained on basic awareness of data security and cyber attacks.
All employees should undergo required awareness training on security risks they may face at work. For example, one of the most common mistakes employees make is falling for ransomware tricks. This may occur when they open an attachment or click on a link that installs a virus on their computer. To prevent this from happening, employees should be advised to avoid suspicious links and attachments and to confirm the legitimacy of an email or site before providing personal or company information.
Implement Data Loss Prevention Tools
Data loss prevention tools consist of a process that identifies and locates confidential data and tracks it as it moves through the network systems in order to prevent unauthorized access. There are a variety of data loss prevention tools that companies can implement to help keep track of and protect their data as it moves within the company. Additionally, companies can take further actions to protect their data, including:
- Encrypt confidential data
- Keep software systems updated
- Secure network access
- Properly dispose of data
By incorporating these programs and methods into a company, business owners and employees can ensure that the data they are responsible for does not fall into the wrong hands.
Hire an IT Consultant
Not all business owners and employees are going to be experts in cyber security. Because of this, IT consultants can be a great resource to invest in. An IT consultant can ensure a company’s information is protected while keeping software up-to-date, providing solutions to technical issues, and increase productivity within the company. Especially among small businesses, it’s important to have trustworthy support with protecting confidential data.
Hopefully, this guide provides useful information that will help small businesses avoid data loss and theft. With the amount of important data companies have stored in their computer systems, it’s crucial that business owners take the time to ensure it’s protected. Whether it’s a simple mistake or a malware attack, data is always at risk of being stolen. But by fully understanding the importance of data protection and how cyber attacks work, companies can implement the necessary methods to protect their data.