3 Tips for Treating Your Business Data With the Respect It Deserves

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Much of what keeps a business operating and profitable lies not on a store shelf but deep inside a computer system, where critical information such as inventory, customer mailing lists, employee files, sales records, and vendor information, is stored.

But a hacker or a system failure can wipe out years’ worth of carefully preserved records in an instant, potentially putting the business out of business.

Business owners often don’t realize just how precious their data is until they can’t access it. They assume, just like the sun rises and sets every day, the data will always be there, accessible, accurate and performing efficiently. That’s a big assumption.

How much effort businesses put into keeping their data safe reflects how important they think that data is. And some business owners don’t seem to think it’s important at all — until it’s too late.

But for those who want to make the best use of their data — and keep it safe — here are a few tips:

TIP #1
Step back and take a fresh view of your data.
What information is there that you may have overlooked, but could help improve your business? Don’t just look at the same reports you regularly view. If necessary, ask the IT staff to send a few rows with column names and metadata information intact to see what is stored vs. what data you are routinely accessing.

Then review this data.
• Look for patterns or stories that have been left out over time.
• Delve into the past. What has changed? For example, did you see a once hot item turn cold?
• Dig deep.

Your data may have value you don’t even realize until you review it.

TIP #2
Decide what to keep, what to delete.
Government regulations sometimes decree what kinds of records need to be kept. Beyond that, it’s worth having a conversation with your team to determine what’s valuable and what’s expendable.

For example, some historical data may help you compare your business’ performance decade over decade.

Other data, like who entered an order for 4,000 widgets, might not be that important and is just taking up space.

Reviewing what you want to keep for long-term storage is important. You don’t want to spend time and resources managing irrelevant data for decades. But you also don’t want to throw away anything of value.

TIP #3
Review security processes at least annually.
You may want to hire an outside source to review security and, if you believe necessary, hire a professional hacker to look for holes in your systems. Review internal access procedures and password assignments.

Don’t forget that your computer is not the only device that can be a victim of an attack. Phones, hand-held devices, and smart watches, also are potential targets.

In the end, your data is as important as you decide it should be. You should evaluate data, consider what a loss of the data would mean to your company, and from there start building a plan to protect it.

3 Ways to Guard Your Business Against Data Loss That Could Doom It
Data loss is every business’s nightmare. In fact, the majority of companies that do experience a mass disappearance of vital, computer-kept information never turn their lights on again.

About 60% of small businesses that lose data shut down within six months, according to a study released in 2017 by Clutch, a Washington, D.C.-based research firm. Another report, by Gartner, shows a sizeable impact on medium-sized companies as well; 51 percent of those that encounter a major data breakdown close down within 2 years.

Cybersecurity experts say those stark numbers underscore the importance of being prepared with adequate security measures. Many businesses are not, according to the Clutch study, including 58 percent of small businesses.

It basically comes down to the idea that how you protect and treat your data is commensurate with how important you think it is. You protect your jewelry and money, but you aren’t protecting your data. If you aren’t, you’re putting your entire business at risk.

Companies both large and small often try to ensure the security of their IT infrastructure by outsourcing to a third-party security vendor. A recent study on cloud security conducted by Forrester Consulting found that nearly 80 percent of participants saw value in outside security expertise.

Here are 3 main ways that managed security services can save a business from the disaster of data loss.

Security Check-Ups
These are essential for cyber security. The question you must ask yourself is How much downtime can my business afford?

One of the best ways to prevent cybersecurity issues is to have an expert conduct regular health checks on your system. That way, if there are any lurking vulnerabilities or potential issues, they can be fixed before causing any damage.

Performance Measures
This includes analysis of software, server, cloud, and firewall. Business these days operates in the realm of remote servers, cloud computing, and unrelenting security threats.

As the technological landscape evolves, and data security has become increasingly important, businesses recognize there’s much more to it than handling issues as they arise.

IT Development Updates
Hackers are becoming more sophisticated every day. For example, ransomware was able to stall private businesses, hospitals, universities, and government agencies.

If you’re handling sensitive data, it’s smart to upgrade the cybersecurity methods you’ve been using from the beginning of your business. Small- and medium-size companies aren’t as likely to have a dedicated IT person to oversee the multiple systems, so it behooves them to have a service in place that can keep abreast of changing technology.”

You might think managed security is mainly for big businesses, but you can certainly make a case that small- to medium-size businesses benefit the most. In many ways, they have the most to lose.

About the Author: Penny Garbus, co-founder of Soaring Eagle Consulting Inc., is co-author of Mining New Gold – Managing Your Business Data. She has been working in the data-management field since leaving college when she worked as a data entry clerk for Pitney Bowes Credit. She later ran the training and marketing department of Northern Lights Software. For more information, please visit www.SoaringEagle.guru.

 

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