In today's world, we hear about cyber security breaches all the time. They impact businesses of all sizes, from corporate giants like Target and Equifax, to small local businesses. Malicious individuals can gain access to a private network through any number of weak points, causing real damage to the business and their clients—damage that is often extremely expensive to repair, and can be irreparable in terms of reputation.
As a CPA firm, cyber security is of the utmost importance to us, as protecting our clients' data is imperative to the success of our business.
The best way to avoid a cyber security breach is to lessen any potential vulnerabilities in your system as much as you can. Here are our top 5 tips for preventing a cyber security breach:
- Protect your devices.
Enforce the use of strong passwords for any and all devices used for company business—including computers, phones, and tablets—and require passwords to be updated on a regular basis. All devices should also be set to "time-out", which requires an employee to log back in with their password after any period of inactivity.
- Encrypt sensitive data.
If your company handles sensitive data, it may be best to mandate encryption of all data transmissions within the company, including email transmissions. Data encryption programs, such as ShareFile, can be used to manage this process.
- Utilize security software and keep it up to date.
There are many good options for security software, including firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software. However, these software programs need to be kept up to date to be as effective as possible against the latest cyber attack strategies.
- Minimize data storage.
Create rules around what data needs to be kept, and for how long. Keep only what you need, and destroy data before disposal—by shredding physical documents, or using software designed to permanently delete digital files.
- Educate employees.
Establish a written record of your company's privacy and data security policies, then share it with employees and continuously provide training and reminders on best security practices.
It's also always a good idea to have a response plan in place should a data breach occur, as a quick response could potentially lessen the damage. If you have questions about data security, leave a comment below, we're happy to help!