For today’s businesses of all sizes, data loss prevention should be standard. There shouldn’t be debate anymore about how data loss is a real, common problem for small businesses and startups. Instead, businesses should implement appropriate prevention strategies.
This is especially important for startups. According to research from Small Business Trends, 58 percent of small businesses are not prepared for data loss. If they lose data, 60 percent of small businesses will shut down within six months of the incident.
Many startups and small businesses are taking a proactive approach to data loss prevention within their organizations. “When it comes to your company’s data, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” the Small Business Trends article says. “Otherwise you run the risk of suffering huge losses.
If you want to protect your company from loss and potential shutdown, here’s what to do.
1. Utilize Advanced Encryption
For companies that work with plenty of sensitive data and information, data encryption is vital. It prevents threats because it makes the information useless to unauthorized readers.
At the very least, use an email encryption service that encrypts email content between employees and customers. While many organizations use a third-party solution for their email security, it’s a lot easier for both your employees and your customers to use a service that works with your existing email service.
There are plenty of advanced encryption options that work well with Microsoft Office 365, Gmail, and more. Do yourself a favor and opt for this simple method of protection.
2. Prioritize Cloud Data Backups
According to a Verizon report, the combined cost of data loss for U.S. businesses is $1.7 trillion in the last two years. Even small data breaches involving less than 100 files cost the average business between $18K and $35K.
Most businesses don’t have the money to absorb these costs, and that’s why so many shut down after a breach. Developing a consistent backup system could be the solution.
According to Small Business Trends research cited above, the use of data backups is catching on, and 78 percent of all small- to medium-sized businesses will backup their data on the cloud. Right now, less than 50 percent backup their data on the cloud daily, even though the cloud is arguably the safest place for them to store their information.
3. Understand When and Why Data Is at Risk
Every startup takes on a certain level of risk, but if you can mitigate the risk, you should! For most startups, data loss is one of the most avoidable risks there is, but too many beginning entrepreneurs don’t take advantage of data protection.
If you’re a small business that stores sensitive information like full names, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, emails, credit card information, and more, assume that your business is at risk.
Small businesses, particularly those in the early stages, tend to be targets for ransomware, brute force attacks, malware, and other hackers after information.
Accidents also happen. According to Small Business Trends research, 29 percent of all data loss incidents were simply an accident.
“More than often, we are not quite aware of the real risks and how to avoid them,” says an article from the publication Data Backup and Online Storage. “Most common reasons for data loss are connected to our everyday lives – the way we save, store and handle our data.”
Some of the most common ways that companies lose data include:
- Employee ignorance
- Not regularly backing up your files
- Using only hard drives
- Accidentally deleting files
- Viruses and damaging malware
- Power failures
- Device theft
- Liquid spills on a computer or hard drive
- Fire accidents and explosions
Determine your highest risks for data loss, and develop a strategy to contain the threat.
4. Monitor Data Movement
Data should be closely monitored to identify risky behaviors and circumstances, particularly when it’s being transferred from one place to another. Not only could unsecured data transfers pick up malware along the way, but it could also be lost in transition.
Paul Martini, CEO and co-founder of the company iBoss, urges companies to focus “on the data itself; proactively monitoring it, determining where it’s moving, to what regions, and how much data is being transferred. Once they are able to do that, they will realize that no silver bullet is going to solve the problem of advanced, targeted threats. But gaining visibility and insight into the data on your network at least puts you in a better position to avoid the consequences of a serious data breach.”
The steps you take for proactive protection of your data will determine whether or not you can survive as a startup in this digital-driven world.