In an age when so much happens online, businesses must be willing to commit to digital security to best protect the sensitive data and information of themselves and their customers. In fact, some estimates indicate that the global market for cybersecurity will surpass $80 billion next year, indicating just how important this issue has become.
To help your business start to address this complex issue, the following are a few best practices for protecting sensitive data on your networks.
- Invest in a dedicated server: Many small businesses use shared servers to host their files. While this can be a cheaper option, it also means that multiple parties may have access to that server. If another website on the server has weak security, your site could be vulnerable, as well. A dedicated server can be worth the extra expense for the peace of mind it provides.
- Encrypt all your data: You should never keep sensitive information and records unencrypted. If your network is somehow compromised, unencrypted information is an easy target for cyber criminals.
- Always monitor for malware: Establish programs monitoring your website’s security at all times so you can be alerted instantly to the presence of any malware. As soon as your site has been infected or has the potential to be compromised, you will be able to address the problem before it gets out of control.
- Keep access restricted: Access to sensitive files containing personal customer information should be on a “need to know” basis only. Keep all files in a single, centralized location, whether they are digital files in one server location or physical files in a filing cabinet in a locked room.
- Regularly shred paper documents: If you keep physical copies of the information you store online, be sure to properly dispose of it. Shred or burn any sensitive customer data—simply throwing it in the trash or recycling is not good enough.
- Permanently delete digital files: Simply moving a file to the trash bin on your computer does not wipe it from your files. There are still traces of the file that allow it to be recovered. There are a variety of programs that make it easy to permanently delete these files when you are ready to do so.
- Always have a response plan ready for a breach: You need to be prepared in the event a breach does occur. This should include isolating the problem, notifying any customers who may have been affected and resolving the situation as soon as possible. You should never attempt to conceal a breach from your customers—be as open and honest as you can be.
Cyber security must be a crucial component of your company’s digital operations. Be sure to consult an information technology professional to establish a plan for your business, and speak with a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney to ensure you are covering all your legal bases.
Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi, a widely respected and well-established intellectual property law firm serving businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.