Top 5 Ways To Protect Business Data

Learn how to protect your business data with these five steps.

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• Business: DIY • Business: Helpful Information
• Business: How-To • Business: Small Business
• Business: Tips & Tricks

Matt Anderson's Take
Pretty much every business, no matter how big or small, relies on a constantly growing amount of electronic data. But is your data protected from loss, theft, or even a long term employee who used to do it all that leaves your company? Follow our five simple ideas to help protect your business files and data and avoid a catastrophic loss of important information that could ruin your business.

1: Make A Plan


As with everything in your business, you need a good plan to get started. Make lists of the type of information your business stores, where that information is, who is in charge of it, and any current backup and protection measures that are in place. Make sure everything is well documented and make sure all of your information and data is accounted for in this plan. Leave no stone unturned!

2: Employee Owned Devices


One great thing about everyone having a smartphone, tablet, or laptop is that companies can often let their employees bring their own device (BYOD) to work. While this is a great way for businesses to save on hardware costs, it's also a way for data to be scattered all over the place. It could also lead to potential security problem if sensitive data gets into the wrong hands.

Make sure that all devices are storing data in a remote location (office server, the cloud, etc) rather than on the device accessing that data. At the same time, make sure all requests for data are done securely via virtual private networks (VPN) or secured website connections like HTTPS. Finally, limit sensitive data to only those who truly need it.

3: Centralize Data


Having data scattered over multiple devices is a great way to set yourself up for problems at some point. Instead, find a way to centralize your data into a single location (or as few locations as possible). Rather than employees saving documents to their computer, have them save to a shared network server or cloud storage.

4: The Department Of Redundancy Department


It doesn't matter how great your data plan is, how well you back data up, or how securely you access it if you don't have some redundancy built in. Data storage is incredibly cheap these days so don't just make a single backup that you overwrite every month and store in your office.

Instead, make multiple rolling backups with redundancy. For example, if you decide to backup your main storage (a network server, the cloud, etc) each Friday then buy several drives (maybe 4 to start, depending on how important your data is). Every Friday you'll backup your main storage to an external hard drive along with a cloud storage service. This way you have two backups beyond the main data.

If your main data is already in the cloud, then choose a different cloud provider when you make a backup. Store the first external hard drive offsite and securely, a bank deposit box is a cheap and safe option for most. The next Friday, you'll use the second hard drive to make a new backup and you'll copy a new backup to your cloud service rather than overwriting the first backups you made. You'll repeat this and when you get to the fifth Friday you'll start back at the first hard drive you used, overwriting the data on it.

This gives you a rolling backup that allows you to have multiple backups as well as going back a full month in case anything was deleted, corrupted, etc. For more sensitive data you can extend this rolling backup plan for months, even years, as needed. Also, make sure that you never have a single employee who knows how to handle your data. You'll want two or more employees to always be up to speed on data, backup, and restoration plans as part of your redundancy. For more on backups, be sure to also read Safeguarding Photos And Files.

5: Worst Case Scenario Preparation


It doesn't matter how well protected you are if you don't know what to do when disaster strikes. What happens if your office server stops working, is stolen, or your office has a fire that wrecks the server? What if you use cloud storage and that company goes out of business? What if a rogue employee sabotages your data? What if a long term employee that everyone relied on for all things technical leaves your company? Are you prepared?

Think through some worst case scenarios and document what would need to be done as part of the plan you made in Step 1. Then, have a dry run to make sure you can actually recover from the disaster. Grab your last backup and see if you can actually resort your data.
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Matt Anderson
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