6 Ways to Safeguard Your Computer Data

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6 Ways to Safeguard Your Computer Data | Cyber security has been big news over the past few years, as statistics show cyber-attacks have increased by 600% following the COVID-19 pandemic. Data security is important for businesses of all types and sizes to ensure protection of financial transactions, sensitive customer data, critical health records, etc. While there are a number of processes that you can follow to improve data security, the following six steps are critical:

  1. Conduct Risk Assessments

Performing regular risk assessments will help your business to determine where the most sensitive data resides and detect any threats to organizational information. Current data security should be checked for vulnerabilities during this process.

  1. Limit Data Access

Consider employees’ access rights, specifically which employees have access to sensitive business information. Data access is a significant issue related to hacking, data loss, and cyber theft. You should review job roles, determining what data access is required and allowing only necessary access for each employee. This will allow for more efficient management and protection of your data.

  1. Implement Password Protocols

A plan for strong passwords to secure sensitive data should be implemented that includes the following:

  • The use of a long password with a mix of capital and lower-case alpha-numeric characters and symbols is critical to avoid sophisticated hacking tools.
  • Multi-factor authentication is recommended, including biometrics, smartcards, token authentication, and push notifications to phones.
  • Employees should avoid using the same passwords on multiple programs or sites.
  • Implementation of a company-wide protocol that prompts for regular password changes that must meet specifications will ensure password security that defies the efforts of hackers.

4. Create Data Security Plan

Compile a list of data security policies like this that will help mitigate a cyber-attack:

  • Security impact assessments
  • Data access control
  • Secure passwords and authentication
  • Encrypted data to protect client information
  • Segmented internal networks
  • Secured remote network access
  • Current software updates and patches
  • Monitored third-party security
  • Secured physical assets and data

5. Complete Frequent Data Backups

Data must be protected against unexpected breaches and attacks. Your business should make a practice of backing up data regularly, both manually and automatically, and protected through effective use of antivirus software. Data availability and data management both require specific attention to prevent loss.

  • Protection of data for availability means that employees have access to necessary data to continue conducting business even in the event of a breach or cyber-crime incident.
  • Data management involves the strategic protection of data from outages, user errors, malware, malicious software, machine failure, viruses, facility problems, and other disruptions. This can be facilitated by moving critical data to storage both online and offline. 

6. Ensure Compliance

There is an increasingly large and complex set of regulations for data security that require businesses to be vigilant about compliance. Some of the most important include the following:

  • Dodd-Frank Act: Reduces federal bank dependence through regulations requiring accountability and transparency.
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA): Requires federal agencies to minimize data risks through annual reviews of information security programs.
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Requires privacy measures and protection of personal data of EU citizens.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Protects patient confidentiality and data privacy through security mechanisms and administrative procedures governing health records. 
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCIDSS): Policies enacted by American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa to ensure debit, credit, and cash card transactions are secure.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX): Established in response to Enron and WorldCom scandals, this law enacted regulations to protect shareholders and the public from fraud in the financial industry.

With cyber crime continuing to increase in frequency and severity, businesses must take care to ensure the protection of their critical data. Conducting security assessments, establishing password protocols, ensuring control of access, creating a plan for security, backing up data, and monitoring compliance will help businesses to maintain the security and integrity of their critical information.