It seems that hardly a month goes by without news of a cyber attack of some form or another. The cybersecurity of your organization is of critical importance. It is not something that you should leave to chance.
However, if it’s not your wheelhouse, it can feel daunting and overwhelming. As data security professionals, we completely understand that. After all, we don’t know the first thing about running a dental office, a tech startup, or a retail boutique—and we wouldn’t know where to begin either!
So, where to start? Firstly, data is another word for information. Data includes your digital documents, files, client information, manuals, patents, supplier details, order history, photos, etc. So when we talk about data security, we’re talking about protecting your digital information.
Here are five things every business owner needs to know about data security.
Data privacy and data security are not the same thing
Data privacy and data security may sound very similar, but there are some important differences. Data privacy involves the management of data—how it’s collected, stored, shared, processed, archived and, ultimately, deleted.
Data security, the topic of this post, involves preventing unauthorized access to critical data. In addition to that, the ‘CIA Triad’ of Information Security (pictured below) also includes Integrity (preventing unauthorized modifications) and Availability (ensuring critical data is available, which is why backups and disaster recovery fall under security). In other words, data security also includes taking steps to avoid being hacked and having a process in place should there be a breach, such as a Security Incident Response Plan.
Breaches don’t always occur from a third party
When you think about sensitive data leaking from your organization, you’re likely thinking of a nefarious attack from a third party. Perhaps you’re picturing that stock photo of a hoodie-wearing guy in a dark basement, lit by the glow of a computer screen?
While this is cause for concern, it is not the only way vital information can leave your organization. Breaches can occur accidentally with staff logging in on a shared device, failing to install updates or using an insecure password. In some unfortunate circumstances, the internal breach is more intentional. It’s important to do everything you can to mitigate the risk, including having an appropriate and sensible data security policy in place.
You don’t need to be a mega-corporation to be a target
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that cybercriminals only go after large corporations like Amazon, Google and Facebook. We often think that hacking is a “big guy problem” because they’re the ones who report it or make the news. But you don’t need to be a mega-corporation to be a target. In reality, large corporations often have robust data security protocols in place. They aren’t the low-hanging fruit for the hackers out there.
The organizations that don’t have strong cybersecurity measures in place can often be a fruitful hunting ground for cybercriminals and hackers. Businesses of all sizes are vulnerable to phishing scams, denial of service attacks, ransomware, malware, or a stolen device. Small to medium-sized companies of all industries can come under attack at one time or another.
It’s your responsibility to secure sensitive data, such as intellectual property, customer information, credit card details, or employee records. It could be the difference between success and failure.
Make sure all mobile devices are password protected
We all love our mobile devices. They contain everything from cute family photos to our online banking apps. As more and more of us are using our mobile devices and relying on them personally and professionally, we need to make sure we’re as protected as possible. Any mobile devices that you and your staff use for business—including text messages and email—need to be password-protected at a minimum. Ideally, any sensitive accounts would use two-factor authentication.
Build solid processes and an empowered team
No system is 100% perfect. But you can do some things to reduce risk. Most business system failures result from human error, so empower your team to understand the importance of data security and the risks that are out there. Explain what would happen in the event of a breach so that your team understands why specific policies exist and need to be followed. Have a policy in place for reporting and responding to security issues. Be proactive rather than reactive and give your team the tools and systems needed to be a key part of your cybersecurity defensive line.
We’re a no-judgement zone
One of the biggest obstacles for SeekingFire Consulting is that people are reluctant to invite us into their organization and let us see behind the curtain. Many organizations are concerned that they haven’t been keeping up with the best practices in data security. But if data security were easy for everyone, we wouldn’t exist in the first place. We’re not here to shame and lecture you and your team. We’re genuinely here to be a partner and help.
With security threats sometimes changing by the day, it can be challenging for folks to keep up. We get that. You’re running a successful business with a thousand and one different things on your agenda from day to day.
At SeekingFire Consulting, we can help by creating a data security solution and framework specific to your organization’s unique needs. We can even run your security program for you with our CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) Service. We’ve been making the digital world a safer, more secure place, since 2005, and would be delighted to help you too. We’re proud to support businesses and institutions across Western Canada with their data security. If you have a burning cybersecurity question, check out our FAQs or contact us for a no-obligation chat. We’re here to help!
While we have made every effort to present accurate, unbiased and helpful information in this article, please note that it reflects the author’s opinion and is written for the purposes of general knowledge, information and discussion. This article is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be considered as advice specific to your individual data security situation. If you would like to discuss your cybersecurity needs in specific detail, please get in touch with us.