Data Privacy (© monsitj / Fotolia.com)
Data privacy is absolutely one of the most important topics in today’s world. In the past, data privacy was not an issue, partly because with mostly paper records, it was very difficult for someone to steal data – especially because there wasn’t enough data in one location to make it worth it. But today, data privacy is probably the thing that big companies worry about the most. We will explore the topic thoroughly in this article.
What is Data?
The first question that you have to answer is what exactly is data? Data is everything that you store digitally, whether that is company financial statements, customer information, digital images, websites and the content that goes on them, contracts, policy guides, videos and much more. Data privacy is vital in today’s business world, because everything that makes up a company is stored digitally. There is a lot of sensitive information that companies store as a result of doing business, and a lot of other companies would like to get their hands on it, not to mention hackers and other types of people.
How to Protect Data
The first step in ensuring data privacy is making sure that you have a comprehensive plan for protecting your data. Data leakage prevention is an important thing. We will go over some of the ways that you can do that below.
- Regularly schedule backups and make sure that your data is protected from loss. You can do a great deal to keep your data from ever getting out and maintaining data privacy, but you want to make this your number one priority – as a failsafe – so that if your data does get stolen, at least it won’t be gone forever.
- Use professional-quality anti-viral and anti-malware software. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about servers or regularly workstation computers, you need to research the best anti-viral and anti-malware solutions, have them installed and update them regularly. You also want to run them on a schedule.
- Make sure that you are installing all operating system updates on your workstation computers. There is a reason that operating systems issue those updates. Some of them are to fix security holes that the developers did not know about when the software was released.
- Keep your wireless network secure. Always keep a separate network from your public Wi-Fi and your private company network, and isolate sensitive computers to be running on their own Wi-Fi network.
- Erase old hard drives completely. When you throw out a computer, you might think that deleting the drive and emptying the trash will get rid of data but the truth is, it is extremely easy for someone to recover files that have been deleted. Your computer saves them until they get overwritten, so you need to use a solution like a magnetic wipe or software wipe to get rid of data permanently.
- Practice security levels even when you think you don’t need to. For example, do not allow someone to log into a computer with administrator privileges unless you need to. Practice the principal of “Least Privilege,” and ensure that only those who need access to certain areas actually get it.
- Create long passphrases. Don’t use simple passwords. Passwords are easy to guess and easy to crack using decryption software. But a passphrase is nearly impossible to guess and decryption software will have an extremely hard time decoding a long passphrase that is well constructed.
- Encrypt data that is being sent and received over your network from the outside internet. Also, encrypt data that is being stored on external hard drives and flash drives. Whenever you have sensitive data that may be intercepted by an outside party, it is always a good idea to encrypt it.
- Make sure that you are deleting old files from cloud backups. While cloud storage is usually pretty secure, depending upon what you use, there is no reason to keep old data that you don’t need to store any longer in the cloud. Always delete old files whenever you find them.
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When it comes to data privacy, every company should be taking steps to ensure that their data is as protected as possible. Not only do they have a responsibility to their customers, but companies have a responsibility to their shareholders and anyone else with a vested interest as well. Data privacy is everyone’s responsibility and there are several steps that you can take to ensure that it happens. The ones listed here are just a few of those.