If you run a small business, you need to consider what information you hold and what damage or distress could be caused to your business, your employees and your customers if that information fell into the wrong hands. Cyber criminals — that is, individuals who commit criminal acts using computers and networks — are always on the lookout for credit card numbers, National Insurance numbers and any other ‘sensitive’ information that they can use for fraudulent purposes. It’s important to learn about keeping data safe in a small business.
Avoid a Password Attack
Controlling access to sensitive information with passwords is a fairly obvious security measure, but your password policy should be strong enough to prevent ‘brute force’ or ‘dictionary’ attacks. Passwords containing a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters and numbers are much more difficult to ‘guess’ than those that do not. Enforce regular password changes, and immediately cancel the password of any employee that leaves the organisation.
Keep updated with Security Software
Make sure that any security software you use, such as anti-virus or firewall software, is properly configured, kept up to date and run often enough to detect and prevent threats as soon as they occur. An effective firewall prevents intruders from hacking into your network and also prevents sensitive information from being sent out in the opposite direction.
Lock up your equipment
Never underestimate the physical security of your sensitive data. Computer equipment, such as laptops and even servers, can be stolen and mobile phones or tablets can also be taken, so make sure that equipment is securely locked away when not in use, and encrypt your data so that it cannot be accessed by anyone other than authorised users.
Fix any computer problems immediately
If computer parts are broken, make sure that any data which it contains is deleted in such a way it cannot be retrieved. Crushing, fire or water damage may not be a sufficient way to prevent a determined criminal from retrieving and misusing your data.