10 Things to Make Any Organization’s Data More Secure

Technology has come a long way, and although it’s better and more secure than ever, it’s still not immune from hackers and cyber-attacks. That means that all of the data (whether personal or sensitive or classified), that a company stores can be threatened, especially if measures and precautions are not taken to protect it and make it more secure. There are certain things that companies should already be doing to protect their data, but it’s never too late to start or improve. Here are ten things that can make data more secure:

  1. Train Employees

Employees have a huge impact on any business. They are the face of the company to customers; they are what keep things running. They can also be a main line of defense when it comes to protecting and securing data. Hosting training to educate employees on how they can do their part to protect and secure data and information can ensure that data stays secure.

With everything from ensuring that they lock their computers anytime they walk away to watching out for uninvited guests in the building, employees can be extremely helpful in preventing a data breach.

2. Set Guidelines for Passwords and Require they be Updated Regularly

Password security is extremely important when it comes to protecting data. By now, virtually everybody knows what a strong password is not-it is not a name with a number or two, it is not a pet name, it is not a birthday or anniversary, etc. Although most people know what a strong password is not, they still struggle to come up with passwords that are strong and secure. Providing password guidelines and tools to help employees come up with and remember passwords can help protect the security of files and data stored on their devices.

3. Backup all Data and Files

Things go wrong from time to time, so having a backup plan is important. All files and data should be backed up on an external hard drive, in the cloud, or anywhere else it can be saved and stored securely. Many cloud storage programs offer secure storage to ensure backed-up files are protected so that if anything were to happen, users could still access the original files at any time, anywhere.

4. Keep Software Up to Date

Software updates are annoying, and they can take way too much time out of the day. They’re worth the inconvenience and the time, though. Software updates don’t just change the way a program looks, they add measures of security and protect the information that is stored on the device, within the program, etc. If everything is not kept up-to-date, it will be subject to hackers and cyber-attacks.

5. Encrypt it if Necessary

Data that is frequently moved or sent via email, instant message, or text is at risk of being intercepted and should ideally be encrypted. While some information may not be sensitive, anything with personal information, sensitive data such as credit card numbers or passwords, or classified information that cannot be shared with the general public should be encrypted in some way. In some cases, it may be necessary to encrypt entire hard drives or devices.

6. Hire a Cybersecurity Consultant

In some cases, depending on the kind of information being secured, organizations may need to hire a professional cyber security consultant to make the most of security technology and protect the information stored. Cybersecurity consultants can patch any holes and bolster the system so it’s able to withstand any attacks or hacks that may come at it.

7. Limit Who Has Access and Control

The more people who have access to sensitive data, the higher the risk. As extreme as it may seem, access to data should be on a very restricted and “need to know” basis. Most programs can be customized to give certain people certain access which can help protect data that needs to be protected, keeping the high-profile data safer and better protected.

8. Get rid BYOD Policies

Many companies have a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy in place, making it more affordable for them and more convenient for employees by letting them bring their own laptops or tablets to work. As convenient and affordable as it may be, it can also be a huge security risk. If possible, do away with or avoid a BYOD policy completely. If an organization already has one in place and cannot retract it, be sure to implement strict policies that require employees to protect any work data that is stored on their devices.

9. Stay Up to Date on the Latest Scams and Attacks

Knowing the latest scams and attack techniques is important since it will offer a better idea of what can be done to protect an organization and its data. Without knowing what the latest attack strategies are, organizations cannot know how to defend against security risks. Keeping up with articles and attending or having employees attend conferences will help businesses know what to watch.

10. Put an “In Case” Plan in Place

Despite all the preparation and planning, things can still go wrong. Although many organizations put all of these security measures in place to protect and secure data, things still go wrong; hackers can still gain access to it if they want to badly enough. It’s important to have a plan in place in case data and information is ever compromised.

What other steps should an organization take to better secure their data?

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.