When you look at all the ways that your data can be placed at risk, it can be pretty discouraging. As discussed in our last two blogs, data is at risk from bad actors, failed hardware, human error and external events largely beyond anyone’s control. However, there are a range of solutions, some of which can be money-saving, that can help mitigate risk. Here are four key areas on which to focus.
1. Employee training – Your employees remain the first line of defense against cyber criminals. Teaching them proper data hygiene is important. Every firm should have ongoing training that identifies possible risks that employees face. Discuss how to identify phishing scams and, if they have suspicions, never open a link they receive in an email. Looking at the URL of any site they visit via a link can be a real tip-off to a “spoofed” site. Some larger firms have even gone so far as to send out “faked” phishing emails to all of their employees as a teaching tool. They identify who opened them and send along additional tips to ID scams. Also, password policies should be put into place as well as rules forbidding the sharing of passwords.
2. Cloud Storage – While many feel their data is safer protected on-site, that may not be true. Using cloud storage for your data can resolve several of the threats discussed above.
Backups and hardware failures – With cloud storage, you eliminate the need for a great deal of onsite hardware for storage. Hardware you don’t have can’t break.
Access during a major disaster – When you select a cloud storage solution, you create redundancy. Rather than stored onsite hardware which is vulnerable to any number of events, all of your data is stored on redundant servers, most likely in at least dual locations around a very wide geographic region, such as the territorial United States. If there is a hardware failure, natural disaster or other major event, your data remains safe and accessible from an alternate site.
Cyber-security – Choosing a cloud storage solution most likely increases your data security. Huge data server farms have strong physical security, but they also are probably encrypting your data which is a level of protection you probably cannot provide using onsite storage. Additionally, cloud storage providers are going to be utilizing the latest and most sophisticated data protections available certainly far beyond what a mid-size firm could create for itself.
3. Software as a Service (SaaS) – Software as a Service is part of the cloud storage model. Instead of purchasing a software application and downloading it to your own hardware, such as a desktop PC, server or tablet, you purchase a subscription to the application. The attraction of this model is that you are buying access to the application over the internet from whichever device you happen to want to use at any one time. Access to the software is no longer limited to the physical device on which it is installed. This also creates better security because you lose the responsibility to download new security releases in a timely fashion. This is all done behind the scenes for you. It also means you can access your data via remote locations. If your business location becomes inaccessible, you can login and use remotely stored software to continue working.
4. Bring Your Own Devices Policies – BYOD policies are important. Whenever you introduce new hardware to your communications network, you open another access door. BYOD is very popular and can be a real driver of productivity. However, it dramatically complicates the job of securing all of the devices that can access your network, and thus makes it more likely that some crack in the armor will be overlooked. Consequently you need a very tightly and intelligently defined policy for handling all aspects of BYOD. This includes not only defining which type and models of devices will be permitted, but also procedures for handling software downloads and upgrades, as well as lost or stolen devices.
In summary, data security is important, but one main facet of data security is accessibility. Safe data is of no use to anyone if it becomes inaccessible. So as you make plans to defend against events which could threaten data security; plan to defend against events which would limit the use of that data to conduct your daily business operations. Take a holistic approach to data from the perspective of the customer. Remember, anything which affects data usage to meet your customer’s needs will affect your brand, reputation and your bottom line.