Should I Worry About Data Security?

The answer is, “Yes, absolutely!” As consultants, we collect information and produce knowledge for our clients but do we spend enough attention protecting these treasured resources? If your server crashes or your laptop disappears, what will you do? Magical thinking is not good enough.

Last month my friend had his desktop and server stolen. With no back-up system in place, he is now trying recreate his entire business. It’s exhausting, expensive, and prone to error but a cyber attack could be even worse. Do you want to see your client’s confidential data in the public domain?

Happily, a little planning can go a long way to improve your data security:

1.     Protect your business

·       Decide which streams of data are confidential or critical to your business. Keep them in separate drives so they are easy to copy and store elsewhere.

·       Develop a disaster recovery plan. Where will you go for the information you need to restart your business if disaster strikes?

·       Hire IT support on an hourly basis to get to know your business systems. Then if a critical incident arises, they will be able to help you.

2.     Protect your tools

·       Install protective software on all your devices. It’s cheap and updates happen automatically. Don’t rely on the software that comes with a device; everyone else has the same thing.

·       Never leave your laptop unattended when traveling. Remember that your trunk is only as safe as your parked car.

·       Use strong, unique passwords. Change them often.

3.     Protect your data

·       Create and automate a daily back-up system.

·       Test it once a month to make sure it still works.

·       Store data both on and off site. Cloud storage is a good option but also keep a physical copy away from the office.

·       If other people use your devices, limit data access on a “need to know” basis.

·       Don’t use unsecured wifi for client information.

·       Consider encryption features.

Taking one step at a time, protect your data and your business. You’ll sleep easier.
 

Gail Vallance Barrington


Originally published in the Independent Consulting TIG Newsletter, Volume 6, Issue 2. June 2015.

For more information on consulting topics see in Barrington, G. V. (2012). Consulting Start-up & Management: A Guide for Evaluators & Applied Researchers. Los Angeles: SAGE.

http://planningfortheworst.com/the-small-business-guide-to-data-protection-the-check-lists

http://www.businessbee.com/resources/technology/security/data-security-10-tips-for-protecting-your-small-business

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