In the last few years our world has changed in so many different ways. With the high level of connectivity we now enjoy and all the good that it brings, we have gained hugely as business people in our ability to run and grow our businesses.
As all things are in balance, when one has a lot of good one also has a lot of bad. The opportunities for white collar and internet criminal activity has increased hugely and we now face threats not only from dishonest employees but also from sophisticated, technically expert international syndicates that are out to defraud a business of their hard earned money. It is all about the information they can access to defraud you or to defraud your customers and suppliers.
Financial data security is of paramount importance in any business operating in South Africa.
Financial data security entails all measures taken to ensure that the information and data that our business needs to operate and has in its possession is safe. Data protection safety means keeping all information safe from dishonest employees, internet hackers, international syndicates, competitors and any other persons or entities who wish to use it for purposes that are not good for your business.
80% of small businesses who lose or corrupt their critical business information will go bankrupt within six months of the event.
We have clients whose data had been locked and encrypted by the crypto-locker virus. When they tried to pay the ransom to have the data released, they found that the payment does not release the data. Fortunately, these clients were using our cloud backup service and so could restore their critical business information.
There are a number of common mistakes made by businesses that prevent efficient financial data security and compromise their environment. I will try to highlight some of these and the actions required in order to not have these financial data security problems occurring.
Mistake: not knowing who has access to your financial data or where it is stored.
Financial data is sensitive information. This information shouldn't be readily accessible to all of your staff. The common mistake most make is they do not know where their financial data is stored and who actually has access to this account.
Always properly analyse you data and restrict access to the data.
Make use of the role-based permissions on your business software to ensure people only see the information that is required for their business function.
Ensure that data folders on your servers are restricted and only accessible by the relevant people. Also ensure that downloads or extracts of data can only be performed by authorised persons. It is so easy in some cases to extract a client list or a price list and send this via a Gmail account to a competitor. Your data protection policies must ensure all of these aspects are taken care of.
Mistake: backing up your financial data to USBs, DVDs, external hard drive etc.
Memory sticks and DVD backups are completely insecure and external hard drives are very soft targets when it comes to theft. If your data protection backup consists of backing up to these, we should put you in touch with some of our customers who lost all their critical business data backing up in this way.
Always back up your data to the cloud.
Not only is this much safer, the benefits of cloud backup is that data is backed up incrementally. Think about those financial year ends or month ends that just don't balance. Having the peace of mind that your data can be restored and is safely housed is priceless.
Backing up your data to a cloud-based backup service in South Africa is really the ideal way to enable proper financial data security.
Mistake: not having adequate office protection software.
Thinking that your free anti-virus software is adequate for your computer security.
Install cloud-based office protection software on all your PCs, servers and devices.
Cloud-based office protection software will enable you to manage internet threats to your network and all devices used by your business whether in office or out of office. There are people and organisations out there wanting to steal your data and your identity - prevent them from doing this as much as you can. This is a vital step in your financial data security plan and is absolutely crucial.
Mistake: allowing your staff to have access to any and all internet content.
All your staff can access the internet and do any activities they want.
Install cloud office protection and manage the use of social media sites, block dangerous downloads and other sites and keep all your data protected.
By browsing unsafe sites your staff can bring viruses onto your network and enable ransom attempts that can cripple your servers and your business by locking your business data. In addition, staff can spend an inordinate amount of time on social media when they should be working.
Mistake: not having a PC remote management tool to manage all your devices.
Install cloud-based remote management tools to be able to constantly view the state of your network and all the devices connected to it.
Financial data security should be a key area to review in your business and to ensure that you follow the necessary criteria to ensure the safety of your business data. Financial data security should form part of your overall business continuity plan and all possible loopholes must be closed for the loss or theft of your critical business data.