Cyber Safety During the Holiday Period: Is Your Data Secure?

With so many online transactions occurring during the Christmas and holiday period, it’s critical now more then ever for small businesses to re-visit cyber security measures.

Cyber Safety Holiday Season Blog

Cyber Safety for Your Business

With the holiday season well and truly kicking off, there is no underestimating that cyber-criminals are hyper aware of small business and consumer spending habits, particularly exploiting Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping channels.

Data loss can be a costly nightmare for a small business specifically during this time. In particular, businesses that invest significant time and capital into their budgets for the holiday season and marketing efforts respectively, are at increased risk during the merriest of seasons. 

Unfortunately, cyber attackers increasingly target small businesses because they are less likely to have extensive security protection in place. Cyber attacks are also on the rise due to businesses continually transforming their workplace, enabling and promoting a digital first approach.

Personal identifiable information, account details, credit card information, as well as digital activity and geographic location are at risk of exposure, with recovery efforts and delays due to data loss grinding productivity to a halt, during the busiest of seasons.

Could your business be at risk of a cyber attack? Follow these simple tips below to increase cyber safety and security for your business.

1.Educate your staff

When you think of data loss, you may immediately think cyber attack. But the reality is, nearly half of data loss happens when employees don’t know how to protect company data or are guilty of being careless. Ensure all employees do not use their business email address or passwords for online shopping. For any corporate personal technology such as a business laptop, mobile phone or tablet, all devices should have a passcode or password.

Let your staff know how important data security is to your business. Discuss potential security risks and restrictions on employee access to HR, customer and financial data. Go over specific strategies for keeping paper and computer files secure – such as enabling 2-factor authentication, restricting access to sensitive data with security passwords and taking care not to download apps that might carry malware.

2. Make a security plan

Every company, regardless of the size, should have a customised plan in place to outline their information assets, identify security risks and the specific steps your organization will take to mitigate those risks. Think of your data security plan as a living document; it will need to be updated regularly to keep up with shifts in digital technology as well as changes in personnel. A key aspect of your security plan will be to outline how you’ll ensure employee access to data terminates when they leave your company.

You’ll also want to conduct regular audits to test the effectiveness of your security plan, by monitoring how well your staff follow protocol. Following an audit, you’ll be able to revamp or fine tune your strategies to keep your business safe and your data secure.

As part of your security plan, ensure that you work closely with your internal or external IT company and that they are aware of your security process and plans should a cyber attack occur.

3. Include a device policy

It’s hard to imagine small businesses functioning these days without mobile devices. The reality is, many small business employees work from home or remotely, staying in contact via a tablet, laptop computer or mobile phone. Unfortunately, the risk of a mobile device being lost, stolen or damaged is high. You can protect your company data by requiring staff to keep company data off their personal devices – and set up work devices to be wiped remotely in the case of theft or loss.

Other key security measures are data encryption, up to date anti-virus protection and tracking software – as well as a system of regularly scheduled, automatic back-ups.

Key Takeaway

Your data security plan is only as good as how well you and your staff follow it. Take time out to meet as a group, discuss security planning and address any questions about protocol. Be clear on the consequences of a data security breach should it be discovered the cause was due to employee negligence or outright theft. Think about how you can reward your staff for the efforts they make to protect your business by strictly following security protocols.

During the merriest of seasons, the risk of cyber attacks increase. Now more then ever, your business must be aware of these risks and implement measures to ensure cyber safety now and into the future!

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