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What is data security? The CEO’s guide to optimising IT defences (2019)

Did you know that the average cost of a data breach is now £2.91 million? 

While the Collins dictionary defines data security as ‘the protection of data stored on computers’, for many businesses, it’s hard to translate this into clear and actionable steps. 

So, what exactly is data security and how do you make it a key part of your business strategy? 

Although there are many tools and services that help you protect your business, without the right implementation, they are simply another unquantifiable IT expense. Strategy is key to powerful and profitable data security, so let’s run through the basics and explore each of the components that make up a strong security matrix. 

A stronger first-line of defence: firewalls and anti-virus 

Firewalls and anti-virus software should be your first port of call when designing and building your IT security defences. 

According to Microsoft, computers and datacentres without anti-virus software are up to 5.5 times more likely to become infected by a computer virus. For this reason, it’s important to keep your anti-virus and firewalls up-to-date. Committing to regular, automated updates will ensure there is no lag in performance and your business is protected from threats around the clock. 

A securer inner vault: data back-ups  

As data permeates every aspect of the modern business, it’s important to keep worst-case scenarios in mind. What if critical data is stolen, lost or damaged? How would your business respond? 

It’s no longer enough to backup your data to a hard drive sitting beneath your office desk. Instead, consider using cloud back up services to secure important files. Even if your datacentre is compromised, cloud disaster recovery will enable your IT team to restore mission-critical data and ensure business continuity. 

A better educated workforce: IT security training 

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. To ensure your business is secure at all times, you need to train all your employees in basic IT security. Holding regular training sessions is crucial, especially during onboarding procedures. Key topics include: 

It’s also important to note that the majority of data breaches occur from insider activity. To remedy this, use cloud identity and access management (IAM) to keep track of user credentials and ensure employees only have access to the data they need. 

An ever-vigilant IT team: security health checks 

Unless you regularly check and test the performance of your data security, you can’t make sure it’s the digital Fort Knox it needs to be.  

A comprehensive security review should contain the following steps: 

  • Web application penetration testing 
  • Firewall configuration review 
  • Database configuration review 
  • Network and systems vulnerability testing 

If your in-house IT team doesn’t have the capabilities to monitor and assess your security protocols on a regular basis, it’s worth outsourcing the role to an external partner who can make sure everything stays in check.  

Don’t let data security become an afterthought 

Sixty percent of businesses say IT attacks are becoming more severe and sophisticated. But it’s often impossible for an in-house IT department to keep-up with the fast-paced world of data security. Maintaining watertight security stretches under-resourced teams, with legacy hardware hampering their ability to mitigate new threats

In today’s business landscape, you need an IT security policy that covers every eventuality and the right resources to put it into action. But it takes time to create a tailored policy that meets all your business requirements.  

To help you out, we’ve put together a simple template you can use to optimise your IT security process. Click below to download your free template and ensure data security is forefront of mind in every business operation.  

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