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6 Ways to Safeguard Client Information on your IT Systems

It takes an average of 191 days for a company to realize they have been the victim of a data breach. For each day that a breach goes undetected, a company loses additional money and is at a greater risk of exploitation. A recent report by TekMonks, a global IT services corporation, uncovered that 1,946,181,599 records containing personal and other sensitive data were compromised within the past year, costing businesses an average of $3.62 million in damages. The facts are hard to hear but should not be ignored. Since the possibility of data compromisation is only growing, we suggest the following 6 ways to protect your business and the security of your customers.

Limit Employee Access to Customer Data

One of the best ways to secure data is to limit the number of people who have access to it. Business owners should protect office computers with passwords and give only the necessary employees access to data servers. Passwords should also be changed once employees leave. Finally, frequently sweep company-owned computers to ensure employees are accessing only the safest sites and taking the right measures to protect the security of your records.

Keep Up with Upgrades

Always update browsers and software when the time is due. It may be an inconvenience, but it is necessary to keep your IT system running as proficiently as possible. If you are worried about having too much downtime while everything updates, schedule a monthly time for maintenance that reoccurs and, while the system is updating, schedule an alternative event or task. One great option is to update all servers during a monthly employee lunch or to schedule an office-wide cleaning while the system is under construction. Once everything is up to date, your employees can return to business as usual feeling recharged and you will feel confident in your updated system’s security.

Get Rid of Data You No Longer Need

Part of maintaining a secure system involves maintaining a clean system. If you are suffering from data bloat, your IT security is at risk because you have more information than you need up for grabs. For example, you probably don’t need all 9 digits of a customer’s social security number, so you can save on space and tighten your security by only saving the last four digits. Another way to decrease your bloated system is by getting rid of old records that no longer serve you, such as outdated reports or the records of ex-customers. As a best practice, try to pick through unnecessary data quarterly to ensure your IT system is running at maximum efficiency.

Improve your Physical Security

It is great if your IT system is internally secure, but this is meaningless if it is not also externally secure. You must physically lock down all customer data by providing laptop locks for employees to use when they leave at the end of the day. You can even store all laptops and other forms of technology in a safe or locked room after business hours. Make sure only top-level, trusted employees have office keys and access to safe rooms. Office theft is on the rise, so it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the physical security of your technology and customer information.

Hire an IT Professional

If you are not confident in your ability to appropriately monitor the security of your IT system, you can hire a professional to do the job for you. These people are up to date on the latest in hacking and security, so they can recommend the best solutions to keep your company safe. IT professionals have years of experience and often charge a hefty price tag for their services, but the millions you save by protecting your records will be well worth the longterm investment in their expertise.

Be Honest

If the worst happens and your company is the victim of a data breach, you need to notify customers and clients right away. Make sure they are aware so they can monitor their records and report suspicious activity to authorities. Give them up to date information and explain your plan to correct the situation and ensure their safety moving forward. This will help you pinpoint exactly where the breach occurred and how much data was compromised, so you can create an effective plan to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. In the end, it may be hard and embarrassing to tell everyone the bad news of your security breach, however, honesty is always the best policy. Being honest will show you are taking responsibility for the matter and help you regain the public’s trust.

Cyber-crime affects businesses of all sizes and industries. It is the greatest threat currently facing every company in the world, according to Ginni Rometty, the chairwomen and CEO of IBM. Use these 6 tips to stay ahead of hackers and ensure the security of your important customer records.

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