How to Protect the Privacy of Your Small Business' Data

Data breaches and cybersecurity threats can threaten the security and privacy of a small business. Customers that are the victims of cyber-attacks may not feel comfortable shopping with the company again. As a result of a security breach, the business may lose valuable clients and their trust. The more severe a security breach, the more likely it is the business may lose even more private information pertaining to the company.

Never say these threats cannot happen to your small business. The good news is protecting data is not as expensive or intensive as one might imagine. Follow these best practices to protect your data and decrease the possibility of cybersecurity threats.

1. Establish a Privacy Policy

One of the best cybersecurity practices to protect the privacy of a small business, its employees, and its customers is to create a privacy policy. Explain in a privacy policy how the business will work to keep personal information safe.

Some businesses collect customer data, such as names, phone numbers, and email addresses. The privacy policy should be able to detail what kind of data the business is collecting, what the company plans to do with it, and security measures that will help protect this data. Avoid collecting sensitive data, like social security numbers (SSNs) or other confidential information from customers.

2. Train and Educate Employees

Did you know human error is the cause of 90% of data breaches? Small businesses must take the time to train and educate employees to protect this information. This training will allow employees to better understand the important role they play in helping protect customer data and other valuable business information.

Employee training for how to protect the privacy of a small business should prioritize the following areas:

  • Tips for creating strong passwords and resetting these passwords every 60 to 90 days.
  • Learning about the latest news and trends in fraud schemes.
  • Security best practices, such as knowing how to spot unknown emails and avoiding opening email attachments and clicking on suspicious links.
  • Advice on safeguarding sensitive data. For example, employees may be taught to store data in spaces approved by the business, like an authenticated company cloud service.

Once training is complete, small businesses may have employees sign documents or print off paperwork stating they have been properly trained and educated on the company’s security policies.

3. Invest in Security Software

Small businesses are often advised to run a clean machine. This means downloading up-to-date software, web browser, and operating system to keep viruses and malware from internally impacting the privacy of the small business.

What kinds of software should entrepreneurs install to protect the privacy of small businesses? Here are a few options to consider for data security purposes:

  • Anti-malware software to help combat against phishing attacks.
  • Network security software to scan and identify vulnerabilities prior to a data breach.
  • Antivirus software which scans for viruses and malware after each computer update.
  • Firewall software to keep cyber-attackers from entering a private network and accessing its data.
  • Computer security software for real-time protection against any incoming threats. This software scans computers for existing threats. It identifies, blocks, and deletes suspicious codes and software.

Remember to audit your website regularly. Turn on automatic updates on software programs.

4. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication

Part of employee security training includes learning how to create strong passwords and regularly changing these passwords every 60 to 90 days. Another best practice for protecting passwords and ensuring safe logins is implementing multi-factor authentication.

What is multi-factor authentication? Let’s say an employee is logging into their work portal. They type in their username and password but must provide additional information before they may complete the login process.

Some examples of multi-factor authentication may include receiving a call on an employee’s cell phone or texting a passcode. Multi-factor authentication helps verify the identity of the person logging in and adds an extra layer of security protection.

5. Use a Secure WiFi Network

Most small businesses have a WiFi network in place for employees and staff members. This network should be secure, encrypted, and hidden.

Employees working from home or working remote should utilize a virtual private network (VPN) to protect business data and other confidential information.

6. Regularly Back Up Your Data

Remember to make backups of your important files regularly. This can include Word documents, spreadsheets, financial records, employment data, and more. If you store your documents in the cloud, there are ways to set this process to occur automatically at any interval you see fit.

If your business maintains it’s records on paper, consider storing these documents at a dedicated storage facility separate from the business. In the event of a natural disaster or any other issue that may impact the business, storing your documents in a secondary location can make all the difference. You can also consider using a professional scanning service to convert these paper files into digital ones that are easier to backup.

7. Invest in Cyber Liability Insurance

There are insurance options available for data breach and cyber liability purposes.

Entrepreneurs may reach out to these insurance companies for a quote and make a purchase to ensure the security and privacy of the small business.

8. Utilize a Virtual Mailbox Service to Safeguard Your Home Address

For small business owners, especially those who operate from home, maintaining privacy is paramount. Utilizing a virtual mailbox service can be an effective strategy. This service provides a separate mailing address for business correspondence, ensuring your home address remains private and secure.

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