Thinking about data security can strike fear into the heart of almost any small business owner. Almost every business nowadays has sensitive data it needs to protect—customer data, business secrets, financial information—and if that data were to fall into the wrong hands, it could mean disaster. Recovering from a data breach is expensive and difficult. Many small businesses simply cannot afford the cost of cleaning up after a data breach. Compounding the problem is that fact that business data is now accessible in many more places than it used to be: desktops and laptops onsite—of course, but also mobile devices like phones and tablets, as well as from remote logins. The cloud—storing data hosted servers offsite—is an increasingly popular IT solution for its flexibility, convenience, and cost, but business owners worry about the safety of their data when it “lives” in distant servers controlled by companies with their own objectives.
Given all that, here are three IT security tips for small businesses, in increasing order of protection. If you are the owner of a small business, following these steps should help you erase some of your concerns and allow you to think about other things than IT security, like growing your business and serving your customers.
1. Take the obvious steps first
Your staff members might want to access their work data from their smartphones, but is that really necessary? When tightening up your IT security, look at the little things like this that can have huge consequences if they trigger a data breach. The more ways there are to access your company’s data, the more at risk you are. Most people aren’t very productive on a three-inch screen anyway, so consider keeping your employees’ smartphones off the network.
2. Consider the cloud carefully
Dropbox is one of the most relied-upon cloud storage providers in the U.S., but even it suffered a data breach in July of 2012, as hackers gained access to users’ email addresses. If you’re turning your data over to some other company, make sure that company can be trusted to keep it secure. If you don’t have the capacity to perform that kind of assessment yourself, an expert managed IT services provider (MSP) should be able to advise you on the credentials of potential cloud storage vendors.
3. Seek expert help
You and your employees have grown your business from nothing, based on your expertise and hard work, but will that do-it-yourself approach work for protecting your IT security? Wouldn’t you rather focus on tasks more directly related to your business services? Managed IT service providers now offer many levels of data security services and guidance. Using sophisticated remote monitoring systems, IT service providers don’t even have to come to your location to report on missing security patches, install antivirus updates, and monitor suspicious activity on your network. Of course, if you would like an IT technician to come to your site, check out your systems, and talk to you about your data security options, that is available too.
Learn more about partnering with an outsourced IT provider for data security in our newest white paper for small business owners. Download it for free by clicking on the link below.