Source: Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels
It only takes one data breach to turn the good name of your company into a watchword for other small businesses. If you’re working with third-party vendors and have volunteers or employees who access your system, your risk is expanded. Getting in front of data risks early can keep your crucial information safe.
You Hold the Data of Others
If you have data from donors or customers, such as their email addresses and physical addresses, accessing that data is a goal of hackers and online thieves. While you may think that your business or charity is too small to draw attention to thieves, you’re actually easy pickings. Your organization is collecting all the data held by larger organizations, but you don’t have the security structure to protect it, and that puts your customers at risk.
You Have Employees
No matter how carefully you train your employees, it’s easy for a loyal and hard-working employee to make a mistake and reply to a phishing email. In addition to sending out regular reminders about not using the same password for all programs, make sure you post a Cyber Security Checklist for employees, and consider running an occasional cybersecurity audit to keep everyone sharp and focused.
Be aware that the results of such an outside audit may be changed, which can be hard for some employees. Let your team know that any changes made in data security will help your company be at the leading edge of customer security. If there’s a data failure in your industry, you want your company to be the go-to, not the scapegoat.
You Have Connections with Third-Party Vendors
Your data is only as secure as the data of those who access your system. Risks from third-party vendors can be particularly worrisome for manufacturers because you have suppliers sending you data about raw goods, distributors sending in requests for delivery, and contractors providing you with small projects or steps along the path to your final project.
If their data is unsafe, your data is unsafe. You may be able to increase your security by setting up multi-factor authentication to confirm
- the contact is who they say they are
- the data transmission is valid
- any attachments are legitimate
For example, if you are a manufacturer working with an outside contractor to design a new logo, sticker, or stamp for your products, you’re going to be transferring a lot of digital data back and forth. Email attachments are a simple way to digitally attack your business. Portal access and third-party verification lessen your risk of downloading or even just opening something dangerous.
You Use Remote Workers
There’s a lot you can control in the office, but events of 2020 have put a limit on what an employer can manage from one location. Data accessible via email can travel around on cell phones. Proprietary data can travel around on laptops that your employee then takes around on daily errands.
Remote workers can greatly expand what you can accomplish, but making sure that their setup is as secure as possible is critical to the security of your company. Make sure that all remote workers and employees who are only temporarily been working from home are fully aware of your security requirements in terms of who can access that machine while in their home.
Your Industry is Governed by Security Regulations
If your business is healthcare, you have your own security requirements. In addition, retail organizations, the energy industry, and those in the insurance business all fall under their own regulatory agencies. Your IT people may understand these regulations in the abstract but not have the time to keep up on changes.
These regulatory agencies have to stay up to date with new risks. This means that every data breach within the industry likely leads to new regulations, increased rules, and additional requirements. It is well worth your time to
- get your IT people the training they need to stay on top of business responsibilities
- hire an outside company to do a security audit
- stay on top of regulatory changes
Cybercriminals are endlessly creative and always looking for weakness. An IT team that’s fully trained can reduce your risk and keep you moving forward.
Digital data has changed the world of business, but it’s also increased vulnerability. With the right protections in place, you can put the best of the digital world to work for you.