securing-small-business-data|Photo Courtesy ofDepositphotos.com healthy optimism is perhaps a prerequisite for starting a new business venture. But small companies can’t focus on growth at the expense of protecting what they’ve already built. Whether it’s a data security breach or supply chain interruption, small business owners often make the mistake of thinking, “It won’t happen to me.”

For many, Hurricane Sandy provided a wake-up call, underlining the importance of disaster recovery planning and business data backup. To get started with securing your data, follow these five steps.

  1. Define your critical data and where it is stored: The first thing a small business needs to know is where its critical data is stored. In the event of a natural disaster, what data would you need to have at your fingertips in the next hour to get everything up and running again?
  2. Prioritize security for sensitive data: After identifying your critical data, small- and medium-sized businesses should protect their most sensitive, confidential information by focusing on the people who have high-level data access. What company information are they storing or accessing through potentially vulnerable mobile devices?
  3. Develop policies and procedures for lost mobile devices: With more and more data being stored on mobile devices, small businesses need a strategy in place to address the loss of a phone or tablet. However, many have only a vague idea of the potential consequences. At many SMBs, employees use their own mobile devices, which can complicate matters. Your business might be able to “wipe” data remotely from the lost device, preventing the data from falling into the wrong hands, but that could also mean deleting an employee’s personal data on that phone, including photos. Have a policy in place that clarifies what happens to a lost device and its contents so that employees aren’t surprised when their lost device is cleared and all their personal data is also erased.
  4. Engage employees in data security: Employees play a critical role in securing data. SMB owners need to emphasize the broader, holistic ways in which every employee is a custodian for the business, such as by offering workshops on data security or doing regular checkups for their mobile devices.
  5. Use your network to vet cloud service vendors: SMBs are now learning more about software as a service (SaaS) and are becoming conscious of how providers ensure data security. With cloud services like data storage and virtual private networks, a good way for SMBs to find reliable, secure vendors is to call on their peer networks. Ask your peers what services they’ve used and which ones they would recommend.

There’s nothing wrong with optimism when you’re starting a small business, but a little proactive operational planning can help you protect your company’s data and ensure its future.

What steps have you found most helpful in promoting and maintaining data security? Let us know below in the comments section!

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