3 Best Ways to Protect Your Business Data

In a world full of hackers and people who are up to no good, business owners cannot afford to be sloppy when it comes to keeping their information safe. It is vital that you take time to protect your business data. This post will show you how.

Protect Your Business Data in 3 Easy Steps

Step 1: Back it up.

This one action alone could end up saving you thousands of dollars…not to mention days, weeks, or months of wasted time. Securely backing up your company’s data can be extremely simple. But you have to take the time to actually do it.

Unfortunately, because our time always seems to be filled with more urgent matters, it’s easy to put off backing up data for months or years before we realize it hasn’t been done. We’ve heard too many stories of people who discovered their failure to back things up only after it was too late.

Yes, there are companies that specialize in data recovery that can often work wonders in finding information after a crash or hack. But their services are not inexpensive. And even they will tell you that they can’t always retrieve everything. It’s a gamble that isn’t worth the risk.

We understand the frustration and panic that can come with the realization that your company’s files have been lost or stolen. We hope that never happens to you! Your business, employees, and customers are counting on you, and you simply can’t afford to have that happen. That’s why we’ve put this information together.

The easiest thing you can do today to create instant peace of mind and protect your business data is to back it up. Experts often recommend what is known as the 3-2-1 rule when it comes to data backup.

This strategy states that you need 3 copies of your data (the one on your computer plus 2 backups) on 2 local devices (your main computer and an external hard drive) and 1 off-site (either another physical hard drive or in the cloud).

If that’s all you did, you’d be in great shape. To be extra secure, here’s another variation. You could call it the 3-2-3 strategy. Here’s how to set it up:

Purchase Two External Hard Drives

  1. Keep one at your business and keep the other at home. (If your business operates from home, keep the second one somewhere you can trust.)
  2. Set your system to back up automatically.
  3. Switch the hard drives out once a week. That way if the worst should happen, your physical hard drives are never more than one week off.

Back-Up to the Cloud

There are several reputable companies that allow you to securely back up your devices to their offsite servers in real-time. They are worth every penny as additional insurance against crashing, hacking, or both of your hard drives failing at the same time.

In the standard 3-2-1 strategy, companies used to backup to one cloud server only. However, with how easy it has become to use these services, today’s business owners would be wise to add a second online backup to a server in a different geographical location (since natural disasters can hit server farms too).

(The US Chamber of Commerce has a good small business guide to understanding cloud backup to help you get started.)

If you follow these backup steps (2 external hard drives and 2 cloud backups…with 1 of your hard drives offsite at all times), you will have an incredibly secure 3-2-3 strategy to protect your business data.

Step 2: Keep your software up-to-date.

Even massive corporations like Uber, Yahoo!, and Equifax have fallen victim to cyberattacks in recent years. Companies are investing millions into cybersecurity roles that didn’t exist even a few years ago.

Your business may not be large enough to have a team dedicated to your online security, but that doesn’t mean you have to remain vulnerable to cybercriminals. There is an incredibly simple step you can take to put your data security ahead of most everyone else: install your updates.

In 2017, computer users in 150 countries were hit with the ransomware called “Wannacry.” People who had installed a simple Microsoft patch were immune. Those who had put it off were able to be hijacked because of a small software flaw. Worldwide costs of that one attack were estimated to be close to $4 billion.

When hackers are able to get you to click on a phony website, open an attachment, or play infected media, they then have access to your private information. They may even be able to seize control of your computer entirely.

Hackers have become so relentless that Apple once used to be able to get away with yearly software updates, they now send them out once a month. Microsoft used to do large updates infrequently. Now, they seem to send out small ones every week!

The best way to protect your software is to keep it updated. Even though it can be an annoying interruption (or may cause you to have to reset a few preferences), knowing that you are as protected as possible is worth it.

Step 3: Improve your passwords.

Just as burglars and car thieves look for unlocked doors, cybercriminals look for unlocked (or easily hacked) devices.

The passwords you use are a regular part of your day. Keeping them difficult to hack and changing them on a consistent basis should be a regular part of your workflow.

Experts from the Swiss Cyber Forum recently released 5 Password Security Best Practices for 2021. They recommend:

  1. Make your password complicated. Longer is better (at least 12 characters), numbers, upper and lowercase letters, spaces
  2. Don’t use words found in dictionaries. Use a made-up word as part of your password.
  3. Include brackets. People don’t often use ( ), { }, [ ], or < >, so they’re harder to hack.
  4. Misspell words.
  5. Change them regularly.

And most importantly, for goodness sake, don’t use the same password for everything!

Securing Your Finances and Your Future

CRS CPA is dedicated to using the best practices and cybersecurity software to protect your financial information. You can trust that we take your security seriously. We understand how important it is to protect your business data, and we believe you deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing your information is safe.

That’s one reason we have introduced SafeSend Returns as our digital method of filing our clients’ tax returns in 2021. It is a completely secure way to view and electronically sign your returns using any platform, but still have our experts here at CRS CPA involved every step of the way.

When you back up your data, keep your software updated, and use strong passwords, you become a business that is free to focus on your growth and success.

If you would like to learn more about potential pitfalls in your business or nonprofit, download our free guide, 9 Simple Accounting Mistakes That Are Costing Your Business Money where we look at blunders you may be making that could be costing your business money and keeping you from achieving your goals.

Give us a call if you’re ready to expect more from your CPA. Discover how we go the extra mile to keep your financial data safe.

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