As a kid I didn’t understand the importance of keeping my data secure. This lesson was learned when I opened a lemonade stand, using a top secret recipe.

I wrote the recipe down in my Garfield notebook and began production.  Thanks to a hot July sun and a secret sprig of mint, I quickly ran out of lemonade. I went back to my notes to mix up another batch. It was then that I noticed that my Garfield notebook was gone. As the weeks progressed, another lemonade stands popped up on the cul-de-sac.  Each glass had a suspicious hint of mint. My data had been compromised and my first business was a bust.

The stakes are quite a bit higher than a lemonade stand for most businesses when it comes to securing their data. In today’s business world, data is vital for just about every operation. Payroll, client lists, budgets, confidential e-mails, and all other information is data that needs to be secure.

A common misconception about data security is that only large companies have to worry about the breaches in security.

This is simply not true. Hackers, identity thieves, and unethical competitors will take any advantage they can get. In fact, many attackers will target small to medium sized businesses because they often look attractive. There’s a perception, and often a reality, that many small to medium sized businesses do not properly protect their data.

By implementing some very simple steps, you can increase the odds that your business is safe from any data breach.

  1. Protect your WiFi
    While Wifi has made connecting your office to a network easier, an unguarded WiFi connection can lead to a data breach.  Hiding your Service Set Identifier (SSID), is a good step in security. Make sure a password is placed on the router. Implement a strong password policy for your entire network.
  2. Train Your Employees in Basic Security Principles
    Establish basic security practices and policies for employees such as requiring strong passwords, and establish appropriate Internet  use guidelines.  Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.
  3. Update, Update, Update
    Hackers are always finding new ways to work around security measures and software companies are always working on fixes. Often updating is as simple as clicking yes when you receive an official notification from the software provider. Sometimes it may require a more involved process, such as when upgrading a new OS or Network.
  4. Provide Firewall Security for Your Internet Connection
    A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network.  If employees work from home, ensure that their home system is protected by a firewall.
  5. Employ Best Practices on Payment Cards
    Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used.  You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor.  Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and don’t use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.
  6. Being Smart about Smart Technology
    Smart technology is no longer a niche. It has become mainstream, especially in the office. This means that there exists the potential for a data breach in every employee’s smartphone. Phones get lost and stolen, and often these phones are not locked, leaving it wide open for a breach. Any smart phone that receives data regarding the business should, at the least, have a password lock.
  7. Handle with Care
    Confidential information is often passed from desk to desk in order to take care of business. This data may be in the form of emails, memos, receipts, and so on. Make sure that all data is safe on your network by following the steps mentioned above. Also, shredding is a recommended practice for physical information.

While data breaches can and do happen, taking the simple steps above can assure peace of mind. Talk to your Technology Provider to see how you can implement the right security that fits your business.

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