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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.

 

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Aside from human error and the work of bad actors, our data faces others risks. In particular, the failure of your hardware and software to protect as designed, and the numerous external threats that exist, largely beyond anyone’s control.

 

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With the news cycle dominated by data that has been stolen by cybercriminals, it is easier to overlook the other, sometimes benign ways your data may be placed at risk and become inaccessible to your employees and customers.

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We hear a lot of talk about data security because of the constant threat of cyber attacks and hacking. News of data breaches are extremely common. As a result, we are exceptionally concerned about the branding and reputation consequences of a data breach. However, there are other events which could occur that make our data inaccessible. It is important to know you are doing the best you can to protect against cyber attacks, ransomware and other forms of data theft, but data security goes beyond that. Instead, let’s look at data from a broader perspective.

 

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We hear routinely in the news that a major corporation or government agency has had its data integrity compromised, with millions of pieces of personal data accessed. In these cases the criminals behind the attack hope to get money by selling that data to other criminals. In the case of ransomware, the criminals want your money, and try to get it by holding your data hostage. Plain, old fashioned kidnapping with a hi-tech spin.

What can you do to avoid falling victim?

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If you are unfortunate enough to be the victim of a ransomware attack, there are basically only three options open to you. Ransomware is a type of computer virus that kidnaps your data and holds it hostage for money. It has become increasingly common attacking governments and all manner of business and non-for profit institutions.

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Selling stolen IDs and other personal data is a lucrative trade for hackers. They are always looking for sources where vital information is stored. As a small to midsize business you store your client’s personal information, collected from different sources, on your computers and servers. Your Point-of-sale (PoS) terminal and some website transactions can be completed by use of electronic banking, credit cards or debit cards only. Your customers have to key-in their pins or passwords to make payments. That information has to be saved. Also, depending on the kind of services or products you provide, you may be collecting Social Security numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers and DOBs of your clients. Information that personal is as important as it can get. Any source of that information is like a gold mine for a hacker. All this means only one thing for you: A data security nightmare.

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There are many threats to the integrity of a small business, and not all of them are as dramatic as a cyberattack or a hurricane. Every small business needs to do a risk assessment to determine all the threats that exist that could bring harm. External threats are the ones that get the the most attention. These can be big snowstorms or hurricanes that bring down power lines and network connections. They can also be man-made. A power outage due to a grid failure, or an act of terror. Also in this category are phishing scams, cyber attacks and data theft from external sources.

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Disaster recovery and business continuity plans are issues that almost all small businesses fail to think about. More frequently, they decide they haven’t the resources to address such “unthinkables.”

If your business was down for 1-2 days or more, what costs would you incur?

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Entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially ones that are fairly new, often don’t think about making plans to recover in case of a disaster. However, it is the smallest business that most likely has the fewest resources to fall back on in case of disaster.

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