It’s often necessary to collect and digitally store information about your business operations, clients, vendors, or associates. Yet, a data breach can expose you and those you do business with to a nightmare of security problems. To keep your data safe, it’s best to consult a professional and develop a cybersecurity plan.
The first step in protecting your data is to collect only the personal information needed for your purposes. Identifying details such as names, addresses, and phone numbers are basic, but don’t ask for social security numbers or other highly-sensitive information unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Treat critical and personal information with more care than routine information such as purchase history or preferences. Regularly delete information no longer needed, such as when a relationship with a client or vendor has ended. The less information you store, the less harm will be done if a data breach occurs.
A PO&M can help you set specific goals for your cybersecurity. PO&M (also abbreviated POA&M) stands for Plan of Action and Milestones. Developing a PO&M with a cybersecurity expert can identify any potential security weaknesses and allow you to take necessary actions to strengthen your data protection systems. A good PO&M examines your hardware and software but also considers the human element, such as practices, policies, and employee compliance.
The milestones component of the PO&M involves dividing the cybersecurity plan into prioritized segments for implementation and setting dates for completion. A thorough and systematic review of your data protection plan is essential to keep your data safe.
The most common cause of data breaches is employee carelessness. A neglectful employee may share passwords, leave data exposed, or even share sensitive information through public channels like email. For that reason, training employees to protect data and limiting access to only essential personnel should be part of your cybersecurity plan. Requiring frequent password changes or implementing two-party authentication also adds layers of security. Unfortunately, not all employee-caused breaches are unintentional. Access should be immediately terminated for workers who have left the company for any reason.
As your business grows, it’s likely you will have an increased need to protect the sensitive data related to your internal operations or your associates. Stay one step ahead of digital thieves by setting up safety protocols and procedures.
Read this next: How to Run Your Business With No Centralized Office