How to protect your company against data loss

data loss

In the digital age, data is the bloodline of every organisation. Small and large companies alike store and process an immense volume of data every day, from vendor and client information to employee personal data and transaction details.

As data breaches become more and more common, customers and regulatory authorities are looking to enterprises to protect the data they hold from data theft or loss – and that includes SMEs. What are the steps you need to take?

Put Cybersecurity First

SMEs are far from immune from the recent wave of cyber-attacks, as relevant research unequivocally shows. A 2017 report concluded that 16% of SMEs had suffered a hacker attack in the last 12 months – which translates to roughly 875,000 businesses across the UK. For London-based companies, the figure climbed to almost 1 in 4, while over 20% of all British SMEs had to spend more than £10,000 to mitigate the consequences.

The trend seems to be affecting what clients are looking for, too: 25% of medium-sized companies confirmed that a current or prospective client has directly inquired on their cybersecurity approach – and the same was reported by 11% of small enterprises.

This means that the first step to take is to develop and implement a cybersecurity strategy that fits your company. Identify the vulnerabilities in your activities and assess your needs in terms of protection – this could very well mean that you need to hire an external specialised consultant to carry out this assessment, as well as investing more resources to reinforce your IT department.

Cybersecurity measures like data encryption and tools like firewalls and antivirus programs are essential. Employee training is also crucial to fend off attacks: according to research, over 40% of security incidents across large companies and SMEs are due to employee negligence. Raising awareness and training your staff on best practices could go a long way towards protecting your company from hacker attacks like phishing and ransomware.

Protect Your Company from Accidental Data Loss

One important aspect to keep in mind is that often data loss is accidental and not necessarily due to a sophisticated hacker attack. This means that besides implementing cybersecurity measures, you also have to come up with an all-encompassing data loss prevention strategy.

Start by securing your company servers, which usually host your operations and large sets of data. A load balancer can ensure that traffic is optimally distributed across servers, avoiding overload on any single resource and maximising application performance. This means that your data centers always get the support they need, minimising the chances of accidental data loss.

But perhaps the most important step for SMEs is to set some time apart to identify all the data they have on hold. Only by pinpointing the places where you keep data and categorising it properly can you come up with the necessary strategy to safeguard sensitive data and eliminate unnecessary exposure.

After reviewing your data sets, you can decide on how to better distribute access rights and make sure these are reserved for employees with appropriate clearance and training. This can help reduce the risk of malicious or negligent insiders having access to valuable information.

Keeping your company secure when it comes to your data is not easy – but it is necessary if you want to comply with regulatory requirements and inspire customer trust.