As a business owner in an increasingly digital world, you maintain a delicate balance of staying on top of ever-changing tech trends and keeping important business data safe.
Keeping data safe isn’t just about protection from user error or equipment failure – coffee, meet laptop! – it’s also about reducing your risk of data breaches that can occur when personal information like customers’ credit card numbers or employee tax information is compromised.
How Do Data Breaches Happen?
Some common ways data breaches happen are:
- Phishing emails that appear to come from a friend or business contact
- Lost or stolen devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets)
- Important documents are left unsecured on your premises
- Your database is accessed by an unauthorized user
The good news? You can reduce your risk if you know how to prepare. Follow these tips to keep your business data safe
- Know best practices for passwords. Don’t re-use passwords to log in to different systems – that can put you at risk for what’s known as a “credential stuffing” attack. Credential stuffing is when hackers take a compromised email/password combo for one system (for example, a social media site) and “stuff” it into the login pages of higher-value systems (like your credit card or bank account). Password managers can help you keep logins straight, but make sure they’re set up securely. Get tips for choosing a strong password from the National Cyber Awareness System.
- When possible, enable two-factor authentication. This offers a secure option other than your password – such as a code sent to you via text message – to add an extra layer of security when accessing your accounts. PCMag.com offers this helpful explanation on how to set up two-factor authentication.
- Install or enable tracking software. Most devices come with a find-my-device feature that just needs to be activated. Worried about someone walking off with your tablet at the register? Consider getting a locking mount to secure it to your desk or checkout counter.
- Secure your Wi-Fi connection. Consider setting up a separate password-protected guest hotspot for your customers so that you aren’t sharing a connection or your Wi-Fi password with the world. (See also: 5 Things to Avoid When Using Public Wi-Fi)
- Back up your data to a remote server or cloud service. There are plenty of cloud providers to choose from, but make sure you do your research first. It’s important to know how your data will be backed up - is the service backing up your files or your entire system- and it’s even more important to know their security record. Cloud providers can be breached, so make sure you read reviews, especially those written by security experts.
- Back up your data to a removable device. You can never be too prepared. Have a contingency plan by backing up your data to a removable device periodically. Don’t forget to test your backups occasionally to make sure things are still working properly. The last thing you’d want is to rely on your backup only to find out it’s glitchy or not functioning! Make sure your device is not always connected to your system and is encrypted or password protected. As an added precaution, consider storing your removable back up in a secure off-site location so that in the event of a disaster your data has a better chance of surviving. (Related:Do You Know the Best Way to Store Your Digital Data?)
Even if you’re taking steps to protect your sensitive information, a data breach can still happen. But here’s the good news: Your business insurance policy from ERIE can help you get things back to normal.
ERIE offers specialized coverage, such as Data Breach Response Expenses Coverage, that can provide tools and support to help you get back to business as usual after a data breach.
Talk to your local ERIE agent to learn about all your available options for data breach protection and choose what’s right for your business.
This story was originally published in 2018. It was updated with new information in 2019.