If your business is connected to the internet, the burden of protecting sensitive data from unwanted intruders falls on your shoulders.
Just one incident of data theft can send your company into a tailspin of negative publicity that may take years to overcome. With so much at stake, you can't afford to put off protecting your business data another minute.
Even if you don't sell products or services online, your business data may still be vulnerable to intrusion and theft. Customer data, pricing structures, personnel records, and other information can all become potential targets for hackers determined to obtain them or even destroy them altogether. To protect your data, you will need to adopt an aggressive, proactive policy of information management and security.
Believe it or not, one of the most dangerous threats to your company's information is also one of the easiest to protect against: Viruses. Although there are many different kinds of messages, nearly all of them are transferred via e-mail messages into a computer's hard drive. Once in the hard drive, viruses are capable of destroying data and infecting your entire computer network. Over the past several years, variations on traditional viruses have sprung up called spyware. Spyware is software that is designed to enter another computer or computer network and collect personal information without the consent of the computer user. Some spyware programs are even capable of recording stored credit card information - a real threat for many small businesses.
Even though it's impossible to completely immunize yourself from the threat of viruses, your best protection is to install virus and adware scanning software on your network and on all of your company's computers.
Local Area Networking (LANs)
Virus protection alone isn't enough to defend your information from high-tech interlopers since the most advanced virus protection software can't stop hackers from infiltrating your system directly through your internet connections. However, local area networks (LANs) offer an economical solution for any small business. By routing your internet connection through a local server, you can establish a firewall (protective barrier) between your system and the outside world. Individual computers are then given access to the server through a hardwired or wireless connection, which can also be outfitted with advanced security measures.
All the high-tech solutions in the world won't do you any good unless your computers, servers, and backup files are physically secured. Access to sensitive information should be limited and the hardware containing critical files should be securely locked up when not in use.
Many small business owners do a great job securing their information, but fail miserably when it comes time to dispose of outdated material. Shredding paper records is a good start, but you might need assistance in erasing computer data. For assistance, you might want to consider employing the services of a qualified computer disposal or data management company.