With high-profile security breaches and data theft getting attention in the news, it’s important to make sure that your company is protected against cyber attacks and lost data. The speed at which technology is developing can be daunting, but don’t panic! A strong and clear data security policy is your first line of defense.
What should a data security policy include?
Every company uses technology differently, which means that your company’s data security policy has to be unique and specific to your needs. However, there are several baseline things you can consider to protect your data and the data of your clients. The first step to creating a policy that works for your company is to identify which technologies might be at risk.
- Email. Email can present many different security risks. Improper use of email for transferring data can be a huge risk, and can be difficult to track. Clear expectations on message content, file retention, and encryption for all company email communication are critical to any data security policy. In addition, all employees should be trained to recognize phishing attempts and prompts to download malware and viruses.
- Mobile Devices. Mobile phones and tablets have become a part of many people’s daily lives, but these devices are also a possible security risk. Because it’s harder to monitor data usage on an employee’s mobile device than on their desktop computer, all mobile devices should be evaluated and approved before accessing any company data.
- Data Storage. How, where, and how long your company stores data is an important consideration. If data is improperly stored or is not backed up, data leaks or loss may occur. Cloud storage systems, while they have their own risks associated, can help prevent data loss, and steps can be taken to ensure their security. Data access should be restricted to only trusted employees who need it in order to protect against internal breaches.
- Internet Usage. It’s easy to take your and your employees’ internet usage practices for granted, but unrestricted internet usage creates a potential for malware to infect company computers and networks. Monitoring internet usage not only has the potential to increase productivity, but is also an integral part of any data policy. Ensuring that all employees know the risks of their internet usage as well as ways to protect themselves and the company while browsing will allow everyone to be active in protecting company data.
- Passwords. When signing up for almost any online account, from movie streaming to email to online banking, you are asked to create a password with a set of criteria. Though sometimes annoying, these are not designed just to make your password harder for you to remember! Setting guidelines for secure passwords throughout the company is a basic but critical part of your data security policy. Not only should passwords be complex, but they should also be changed frequently and never shared.
The best way to prevent and fight data security breaches is to train and educate employees on the way they handle data. Making sure that everyone working for you knows both the risks and prevention methods for security breaches is the first step to ensuring data privacy. However, you should always keep human error in mind, and plan technological safeguards. With several, layered strategies in your arsenal, you can rest easy knowing your data is protected.