Five automatic ways to protect company data

Today I would like to talk about the other side of data recovery, protecting company data from loss or theft. We specialize in that other kind, when you accidentally lose or delete data and need data recovery to help get it back. This side of the equation is protecting your data so it cannot fall into the wrong hands.

Information is currency. No matter how small or large your business is, your data is worth something to someone. The only person it should benefit is you but that isn’t always the case. Poor network security and data hygiene can mean more people are benefitting from your information than you might think.

Just like going through your real trash to find information on what you’re up to, hackers will go through your virtual trash to see what they can find. Most businesses generate data at prodigious rates and much of it will give valuable insights into how you work and more. All will be worth something to somebody.

Plus, many industries now have compliance rules about secure file deletion. You certainly don’t want to end up on the wrong side of those!

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to protect your information and hopefully prevent your needing to recover data from those who stole it. We aren’t security experts by any means but we have many years’ experience securing small networks and home computers, these ways to automatically protect company data stem from that experience.

Five ways to automatically protect company data

The key to securing your data is to keep it away from prying eyes. That means secure deletion and using encryption for stored data. Most of which can be automated. Here are five ways you can minimize the chances of data loss through theft.

1.   Automate file deletion

Did you know you can automatically empty the Windows recycle bin when a user logs off or shuts their computer down? If you use Mac, you can set it up to delete the trash can after 30 days too. Most users forget or don’t have the time to empty the trash at the end of each day so it is easy to configure Windows to do it for them. Mac keeps the files for a month, but is still a more secure way to manage data.

Unfortunately, this data in limbo. Data sitting in the recycle bin or trash is not deleted securely and it is out of sight and out of mind. Hackers know this and will usually check recycle bin or trash when looking around your system. Until it is actively deleted, it is vulnerable to loss. Plus, regularly emptying the trash does a lot to save disk space.

2.   Automatically erase temporary files and system cache

Another potential weak link are temporary files and the system cache. Both Windows and Mac use both types of file to help users navigate the system and speed up the user experience. Both systems will delete these files eventually but until then, they are vulnerable. While not as valuable as Office files or manual file creation, they can tell a hacker a lot.

You can set Windows to automatically delete temporary files with a batch script. Mac uses some automatic system cleaning by default and will work through system cache and temporary files. Make sure these are tuned to your particular needs to prevent data loss or theft.

3.   Create a manual file deletion policy

Setting up scripts and automated systems to delete files is all very well but we all know they aren’t foolproof. If you have an IT guy or team, it makes sense to set a policy of scheduled checking and manual verification or deletion to make sure the files are wiped and that you are protected.

Assigning a specific schedule and responsibilities to a team member, if you have them, will go a long way to ensuring your information is secure and that you are fully compliant.

4.   Automate file encryption

Both Windows and Mac have encryption services that will automatically encrypt data at rest on your systems but what about when it is emailed or backed up? To be truly secure, a single encryption system should cover data on user machines, on backups and when in transit.

No operating system provides those facilities but many third-party applications can. We don’t make recommendations here as the market changes all the time. What we will say is that there are a number of small business and enterprise platforms that can fully protect your information at all stages of its life cycle. Use one.

5.   Create an audit trail of all measures

While an audit trail doesn’t do much for file security or prevent data loss, it does protect the company. With data security and compliance such an important feature, creating an audit trail of the measures you have initiated and the steps you take to protect and secure data will cover you as much as possible should you get hacked.

Different industries and different states have their own regulatory requirements so it is vital that you know yours. Once you instigate the appropriate protections, you need to be able to demonstrate they are followed at all times.

The first four measures are designed to protect your data and prevent data loss through theft or hacking. The final measure is designed to protect you and your business should it happen anyway.

Don’t forget mobiles

My final word on preventing data loss is regarding the mobile workforce. Whether you all work on the road or just do a little here and there on a smartphone or tablet, it is vital that you include these devices in the mix. Many service providers have secure deletion and remote wipe facilities for business and it makes sense to take advantage of that.

A cellphone or tablet is very easy to lose or steal, so using encrypted phones with secure PINs and the ability to remote wipe them will go a long way to shoring up what is an oft-overlooked aspect of data security.

By spending a couple of hours following these simple steps, you can improve your company’s data security many times. Hopefully then, you will never need our data recovery services!

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