Data security is a critical concern for your business these days. Until relatively recently, the general public thought that certain brands of computers were virus-proof. Now hackers are attacking those computers on a daily basis as well as PCs. Recently, makers of anti-virus and anti-malware software have added protection for smart phones and mobile devices to their subscription plans. Many small businesses now use credit and debit card scanners that attach to a smart phone to take customer payments. Viruses can cripple your smart phone so that you have to restore it, and if you haven’t been backing it up to your computer daily, you could lose client account numbers. Malware is designed to track and steal information. If malware infects your smart phone, your clients’ account information can be used to make purchases and even steal their identity. No matter how small your business is, a data breach like that can ruin your business’s reputation.
With hackers all over the world working around the clock to get into your computer and smart phone, how do you secure your business’s data?
You start with a good paid anti-virus software program. Free anti-virus programs downloaded from the Internet are not really sufficient for home use any more and are certainly not acceptable for business use. Unless you are extremely familiar with computers and software, you don’t know if you’re actually downloading an anti-virus program or a virus masquerading as security software. Invest in one of the several brands of anti-virus software programs available in computer and office-supply stores. It’s easy to research ratings and reviews on the Internet. Ask the salesperson in the store too. Make sure that the program you purchase also includes anti-malware protection, because viruses and malware are two different types of software programs.
When your clients entrust you with sensitive data like social security numbers and account numbers, you have to consider the physical security of your data storage in addition to protecting the information on your computers or phones. Use passwords for your computers and only share them with other employees who have a genuine need to access computers containing sensitive information. Change your passwords regularly. Research the best ways to create a strong password online. Don’t back up your data to external hard drives or other physical media that can be stolen. Use a secure online backup service.
You may have data on paperwork in filing cabinets. Account for all the keys and keep the cabinets locked. If you can’t account for all the keys, call a locksmith and have the cabinets re-keyed. Finally, if you need to do away with old paper files, use a high-quality shredder. If you are replacing computers, make sure the hard drives in the old ones have been reformatted and wiped clean.