Data security: the never-ending story

Not a month goes by when we do not hear another news story about hackers getting hold of sensitive data. The latest being the UK National Lottery suffering from a cyber-attack where they believe approximately 26,500 accounts may have been compromised. But cyber-attacks are not the only way that companies can fail their customers and employees through poor data security. Lost CD disks, stolen laptops and intercepted emails are some of the simpler ways that businesses can be susceptible to data security failures.

Small and medium businesses may feel removed from these risks, why would anyone want to hack them? However, in the UK The Data Protection Act says that “Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.” (source). This means that it is the responsibility of any business to ensure that data is stored securely and any risks of accidental or malicious access are minimised.

Data security tips for SMEs

Small businesses are not necessarily able to invest in end-to-end encryption software but there are some affordable ways that they can take steps to comply with the Data Protection Act:

  • Basic Anti-Virus software to stop any malware stealing data from your work computers
  • Set up your computer Firewalls
  • Run software updates as you are alerted to them
  • Change passwords at regular intervals – at least every 3 months
  • A secure data storage system (not the dreaded Excel!)
  • Store business information in secure cloud software to reduce reliance on sharing documents via email/ alternatively you can use a local “on-premise” server, as they are arguably more secure because all activities lives within your four walls

Secure Data Storage Systems

Relying on spreadsheets to store sensitive data is a risky choice. Both from a data management perspective, a reliability perspective and a security perspective. There are lots of different database systems available to businesses. We use FileMaker for all our clients we’ve found this system to be very scalable and customisable. The security is also excellent with multi-level encryption, secure cloud access and access management from a central administration panel.

Photograph by Pixel Creatures

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