In today’s constantly evolving and expanding technological world, data is nearly as important as currency in business. In recent years, we’ve witnessed companies have to shell out millions in damage control because of data breaches. Hackers can not only access employees’ personal information, but also the company’s records, emails, accounts, etc. Fortunately, experts, such as those at the Houma-based, technological company Transech, know how to help prevent and manage these cyber-attacks.
WHY IS DATA SECURITY IMPORTANT?
Think of it this way: If you came in to your office tomorrow and all of your data was lost, would you still be able to operate? How would this affect your cash flow?
Data security is critical for businesses. Client information, payment information, personal files, bank account details – if this information falls into the wrong hands, it could be catastrophic to the people affected. Data lost due to disasters such as a flood or fire is devastating, but losing it to hackers or a malware infection can have much greater consequences, especially in the healthcare industry. Not protecting your data can result in fines, lawsuits, loss of customers, loss of operations and loss of income, just to name a few.
IN GENERAL, WHAT ARE SOME THINGS BUSINESSES CAN DO TO HELP STAY SECURED?
Identify your sensitive data and where it resides. Encrypt the sensitive data and back it up often. Keep a copy of those backups offsite and test them often. Force complex passwords and make them expire at least every 90 days. Enforce account lockout so it is harder for hackers to get into your systems by using password-cracking software. Don’t allow users to be administrators on their own PC’s. Use a robust firewall, up-to-date anti-virus software, and up-to-date operating systems and software. Don’t forget about physical security of the equipment. Theft is a real concern; use data encryption whenever you can.
WHAT ARE SOME IMPORTANT INTERNET SAFETY TIPS EMPLOYEES SHOULD KNOW?
Make sure sites you purchase from are secure and keep your anti-virus program up-to-date. Think before you click and practice safe browsing by making sure your privacy settings are on, being aware of adware, spyware and viruses and only installing software that is trustworthy. Don’t conduct personal business on your work computer, especially checking email. Use complex passwords for websites, use different ones for every site and make sure to change them often. Don’t follow links in emails from sources you don’t recognize.
WHAT CAN BE DONE IMMEDIATELY AFTER OR DURING A DATA BREACH TO HELP LESSEN THE DAMAGE?
The first thing is to stop the theft of information and destruction of data. Disconnect servers from the network, followed by PC’s. Consider disabling your Internet connection. Check that your onsite and offsite backups are okay. Be mindful of the fact that whatever caused the breach could be buried days or weeks in your prior backups. Change all passwords with priority given to administrative user accounts or any accounts dealing with financial or medical data.
ANYTHING ELSE THE PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DATA SECURITY?
Take it seriously. Hackers are working day and night, looking for opportunities. Contact a professional, train your staff and be proactive. Companies like Transech can help you uncover your vulnerabilities.