By David Walker, Director of DW Consultants

The press has recently been rife with reports of hacking scandals, from large corporate companies to high-street banks, it’s seemed that even in the most secure businesses around the world no-one is safe in our digital era. But despite the scare mongering that’s hit the headlines this is nothing new, back in 2014 TalkTalk suffered a breach which left them so ill-prepared that hackers were able to fraudulently call customers to gain credit card details and other personal information that made them vulnerable.

For many businesses this recent news provides a stark reminder of the importance of effective data security. Your business may not be dealing with credit cards but it’s still handling important data that you’ve taken the time and hard work to gain. The loss of business data can be catastrophic, MarkitWrite recently reported that 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months, so with staggeringly high statistics such as this in would be misguided not to take the simple measures necessary to protect your customer’s information and your own.

Conduct Risk Assessments

If you have a number of systems online or in physical form, you need to understand the risk they pose on the data you have. Are they easily accessed and are they likely to breakdown anytime soon? Data breaches are now just a prevalent as any other risk in business, perhaps even more so. Don’t be naïve enough to think that this issue cannot effect you.

Remain Up to Date

We’ve all been there when our virus software pops-up to notify us of an update, but instead of doing so we’re often too busy trying to get on with work than take those few minutes necessary to update it.

“What is the real cost of all this disruption? Much less than if you were to gain a virus. It can take a matter of minutes to update whilst you pop the kettle on, which is far less stressful than having the headache of losing all your work and customer data” commented Yusuf Yeganeh of Microbyte Solutions. Firewalls, malware, protection and encryption should all be constantly monitored and kept up-to-date.

Enhance Physical Security

Although many businesses now implement cloud based systems for any data, the risk of physical equipment is still just as important. Can you imagine how your business would cope if all of this hardware disappeared? Not great!

Access to any equipment should be controlled, aged systems should be securely disposed of in the most rigorous manner with a reputable company. Nothing should be left to chance when it comes to data.

Build Awareness

In PWCS’s 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey, half of organisations stated that human error is the most common cause of data loss far more than any hackers trawling the internet.

Unknown emails that are opened can instantly affect a computer and this is something that employees can do quite harmlessly without realising the consequences until it’s too late.

Every individual in the business should be trained on secure internet use, and notified of any potential dangers that need to be flagged. Creating a digitally savvy culture can dramatically prevent these simple issues.

Reduce Risk

Businesses are natural hoarders of data, as you never know when you might need it, but this is an attitude that can put the company at risk from losing more data that was never needed in the first place. Securely deleting data that is no longer required and archiving old data can help to limit the risk should a virus or hack ever occur.

Be Ready

The thought of a potential loss of data is enough to turn anyone’s stomach with the affects that it could have on business. You only need to look at the customer reaction of a delayed TalkTalk to know that you need to act fast and effectively to resolve the issue and retain your customers.

Even the smallest issues should be recorded so that you’re able to access this on a regular basis and improve the measures that you have in place.

Don’t leave your data door wide open for potential harm. The risk of losing your entire business from a few simple steps is certainly not worth it.