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A brief history of data security: what does 2018 hold for small businesses?

Every new business opportunity comes with a data security risk.

When the internet took off, so did malware programs like viruses, worms and Trojans, which were often setup by small-time tricksters. When businesses became connected, people found an opportunity to steal company secrets. And now that we’re collecting data and storing it in the cloud, we have state-sponsored cybercrime programs.

Data security is no longer the concern of your IT department. It’s the concern of your entire business. But with such rapid technological change, how can we work to keep it safe?

Why data security needs to grow up

A business a decade ago looks vastly different to a business today. There were on-site physical servers, slow internet speeds and wired internet routers, and if a company experienced a data breach, it was likely an inside source.

Today, however, 99 percent of all UK businesses employ online services in one way or another, and cloud computing is the new norm. As a result, hackers are no longer bored teenagers locked in bedrooms. They’re wealthy groups of anonymous cybercriminals.

In 2018, we’ll undoubtedly see more ransomware attacks. Like the WannaCry attack in 2017 that affected more than 200,000 employees at hospitals (most notably the NHS), banks and oil companies, hackers are thinking big. Cloud computing businesses will be a big target, and smaller companies without the right data security could see themselves used as a gateway to larger firms.

Modernising compliance and security

Unlike a decade ago, consumers no longer trust businesses, which means businesses need to evolve to rebuild this bridge. Not only that, but half of the UK’s workforce will be working remotely by 2020.

2018 sees businesses adopting more open, transparent and agile approaches to operation. Couple this with the fact that the ‘work-as-a-lifestyle’ movement means businesses need to adapt to ensure their team can work whenever they like, and from any location, and the data security risk begins to increase. This is especially the case for smaller, cloud-only businesses.

But, more risk means better security. Tools like Microsoft Azure’s security centre make staying secure on the cloud extremely easy to do. By using IoT, AI and machine learning, it works to proactively shut down threats that small businesses may come up against, rather than simply reacting to mitigate threats like the data security tools of yesteryear.

Thanks to the advances in these tools and the ability to pay a per-usage subscription model, small businesses can remain as secure as larger enterprises without bursting the bank. Employees are free to carry out their work at home regardless of location and with little fear of being hacked.

Working towards data protection compliance

Despite the above, the biggest data security risk affecting small businesses in 2018 is compliance. Previously, businesses would store sensitive customer information in on-site physical servers, servers that could only be hacked if a computer was plugged into them.

Today, customer information is stored in off-site cloud servers, meaning that given the right tools, this information is accessible to the entire connected world.

But, change is afoot. This May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect, and businesses with non-compliant data protection policies can be fined up to four percent of their annual global turnover, or €20 million.

Ask for a helping hand

For small businesses who fail to meet the GDPR criteria, liquidation is a prominent threat. Weighing up the risk of paying an IT partner to manage your data security or running the risk of non-compliance is an easy one. Not only that, but the cost-benefit analysis of failing to secure your data and getting hacked is easy, too.

While implementing an active data strategy is tough, it’s also vital . That’s why we’re here to help. For more information about how your small business can remain secure and compliant in 2018, talk to one of our experts today

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