Canada’s 2.3 million small businesses are considered the backbone of the nation’s economy. So it’s disturbing to learn that 47 percent of them believe a security breach wouldn’t impact their company. However, as the global economy recovers from recession, security threats are on the rise, and experts warn no business is too small to be targeted. With a lack of awareness exposing Canadian firms to security breaches, learning how to protect your business’ data is crucial. Here are 7 tips for doing just that:
1. Carefully Manage Confidential Documents
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Studies show around 870,000 Canadian businesses have no protocols for the storage and disposal of confidential files. Without such measures in place, firms run the risk of such sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.
Confidential documents can be safely stored in a fire-proof safe or an off-site high-security document storage facility. Once these files aren’t needed, you can protect the integrity of the data they contain by shredding them. Choose a shredder with a cross cut or diamond cut, rather than a traditional strip shredder, as documents shredded with these devices cannot be easily pieced together.
2. Employ Mobile Device Management Solutions
MDM can monitor whether employees are complying with company download guidelines for apps and files. It also allows employers to wipe company details from devices if their workers leave the firm or lose their device. Blackberry’s MDM is a good option for companies as it’s the only device management solution which can manage Blackberry OS and Blackberry 10 devices, as well as Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.
3. Establish Internet Firewalls
Like its name suggests, an internet firewall is a virtual wall which protects your company information from external forces. It analyzes the traffic between your network and the internet, and blocks any harmful interactions. It also hides your computer addresses for added protection.
Utilize a combination of software and hardware firewalls for the greatest security. Software firewalls protect individual employee computers, while hardware firewalls work to protect the entire business network.
4. Create a Formal Bring Your Own Device Policy
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Just 35 percent of Canadian firms have a formal Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, policy, yet three-quarters of local companies allow their employees to use their own personal computers, smartphones, and tablets for workplace tasks. When employees use their own devices without regulation for business matters, they expose their company to cyber threats. In fact, more than a third of Canadian businesses with BYOD policies created the guidelines after noticing security breaches or red flags.
A BYOD policy can outline best practices for employees. These might include stipulating that devices aren’t shared and insisting the auto-lock feature is always enabled. BYOD policies should also outline company security measures like data encryption and the use of mobile device management (MDM) solutions.
5. Password Protect Workplace Systems and Documents
With employees accessing workplace desktops, databases, and documents from anywhere, it’s even more important to ramp up your protection. Password protecting your sensitive information can be thought of something like locking your house. Just as home security systems don’t all provide the same protection, hackers can easily crack weaker passwords. PCMag.com suggests using a password manager to generate strong passwords.
Changing passwords regularly is another great way to maximize security. Twenty-seven percent of Canadian firms do not enforce mandatory password changes. However, as the practice limits the amount of time hacked passwords are useful, these companies would be well served changing their policies.
6. Take Inventory of Staff Devices
It’s impossible to effectively employ mobile device management solutions if you’re unsure how many employee devices are in use, or what they are. Establish an inventory of fixed and wireless employee devices and update it regularly. This will help your firm stay on top of any potential security issues. It’ll also give you greater insight into your telecommunications environment which in turn will help you create appropriate workplace policies.
7. Appoint a Security Supervisor
One-third of Canadian businesses don’t have any specific staff member that’s responsible for sensitive customer, employee, and business information. When no one person is responsible for this important duty, companies can’t be sure that this confidential data is kept safe. A member of your human resources department is a good candidate for handling your workplace’s sensitive data.
Every employee is responsible for maintaining confidentiality and security standards in the workplace. However, a security supervisor can provide guidance whenever staff members are unsure of workplace protocol. They can tell workers which information they can disclose and to who and which files and materials can leave the office. They should also keep personal employee details, such as health information and salary, and customer files confidential.
Feedback is also very important in business, not only from the customers but also the staff that work within your company.