Why you need to think about data security NOW

I had a big data scare a few months ago. My computer HD was failing and I needed to get a new one. I backed up all my data on an external before getting the HD replaced the night before I took it in to the Genius Bar at Apple — but it had been almost 6 months since I had backed it up before then. (Yikes!) I was so scared because my HD was failing, not everything would back up and I’d lose data.

Thank goodness everything did backup OK, and I didn’t lose any data. But it was a scare I’d rather not have. I realized through this experience that I don’t really have a plan for if something were to happen to my data — be it my apartment burns down and my Mac and HD go with it, someone steals my stuff, hacks into my computer, gets my passwords, or the millions of other things that could go wrong. …and then I started to freak out.

Just like many people buy a home security system AFTER they get robbed, or buy auto insurance AFTER they are in a car crash, I didn’t want to be in the same position. For starters, I bought a Kensington lock for my Mac when I do work in a public place, I started looking into cloud based storage, changed my passwords, and started backing up my computer more regularly.

Business owners need to be forward-thinking on data & tech security in their business. They need to have plans and strategies for if things go wrong so their better prepared if you-know-what hits the fan.

To help you get started, I wrote up a few questions you might ask yourself to help start preparations:

1. When’s the last time you talked about data security with your team?

I read a WSJ article a while ago that talked about how your employees are your biggest security risk. Scary thought, eh? Think about it. Have you ever talked about security policies with your team? Do you have policies in place? Does your team actually know what they are?

2. When’s the last time you had your team update company passwords?

If what you sell requires a password for your client/customers, do you ever have them update/change their password? Or rather, how do you keep track of company passwords? How are your employees saving them? Is it safe?

Make changing your company (and personal) passwords a routine thing – be it every quarter or twice a year. We also use Keychain for keeping our passwords safe (One Password is on our wish list, too).

3. If something happens (God forbid) to your data, do you have a recovery plan?

Do you have somewhere you store backups? If something happens, how quickly can you be back online? How current would your backups be?

Brad likes to joke that if the office is on fire, “grab our external hard drives first, then worry about getting out.” We use Time Capsule to automatically backup our computer data for us. If something were to happen to the computers, our backups would only be about 15 mins old. Not bad.

With all this talk about “the cloud,” it might be smart to think about having your company go in that direction. If you have local servers, if there’s a fire, natural disaster or whatever, you’re kind of screwed. And although there’s worry about whether cloud-based storage is “secure enough,” they know a heck of a lot more about keeping data secure than I do — and rather leave that job up to them.

What do you do to keep your company data secure?

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Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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