Keys to Preventing Data Theft

When the issue for businesses is preventing data theft, data breaches aren’t only targeted to companies like Walgreens and T-Mobile. Although Both companies experienced significant hacks earlier this year, and they’re just two of many recent examples from the ranks of larger, recognized name brands.

Yet according to research conducted in 2019, nearly 50% of all online cyberattacks are aimed at small business. And we say “small business” with all due respect, since businesses in the SMB sector should always think big.

Yes, the internet puts SMBs on the same global stage of commerce with Fortune 500s. But many smaller enterprises might not have the same resources to stay in front of hackers. Realistically, few SMBs are equipped to dedicate the financial, technical and staffing means necessary for preventing data theft by way of network and systems security. The business effects of Covid-19 have now made that dynamic even worse.

And since hackers constantly find new ways to outmaneuver security measures for data repositories, smaller organizations are easier targets because they’re more susceptible.

The password problem

Alarmingly, in enterprises of all kinds, most data breaches are caused by employees. The biggest culprit is weak passwords for things like computers, mobile devices, email, databases, CRM systems, printer/scanning/faxing equipment, and collaboration tools (think Zoom, Slack, and the like). Especially when they’re cloud-based, such apps and systems are all potential data access points — and open doors — for a hacker.

Regular password updates are an associated problem, as is making sure employees routinely follow security procedures. Employees might also unwittingly give out passwords in phishing attempts if schemes aren’t detected in a timely manner to alert users.

Make security a priority

At the user level, continuous education and monitoring for password-based security can help curb hackers and deter data theft. This is where an MSP partner for advanced IT and data security can help.

Beginning with informing your employees about data security and how hackers can gain access to your network and systems and devices, an MSP can also:

  • Establish enterprise-wide security plans, set password rules and password update schedules, and continually monitor employee compliance. In addition to protecting all devices and servers, strong password protection prevents someone from accessing a lost or stolen company device and performing a remote wipe of data on all other devices in your organization.
  • Help ensure that remote workers (again particularly with Covid-19 in play) connect to a secure network. An MSP can safeguard your wireless network with encryption and security to hide it from users outside your company, and further enable secure connections only to authorized employees using VPN or similar protections. If employees working from home have no choice but to connect to an untrusted network, avoid inputting sensitive information while using it.
  • Detect — and readily alert employees to — bogus downloads from unknown sources. Hackers often target a business by getting employees to download an “imitation” file or open a suspicious email that can install malware on their computer or mobile device.
  • Assess what data within your business requires the most protection. Not every employee needs to see all the data you possess and manage. In preventing data theft, it makes sense to first limit access to sensitive data in your company.

Opting for a proactive IT service… the benefits

As we’ve pointed to thus far, network, systems and device security for preventing data theft is a primary reason an SMB should consider hiring a managed service provider.

With hackers and data breaches becoming increasingly common, SMBs realize that relying on an MSP partner for proactive cybersecurity initiatives has reached a critical state. Reiterated, MSPs are able to provide security expertise and solutions that many SMBs aren’t fiscally able to support with an in-house IT department.

You might also want to ask these MSP-related questions:

  • What services are you looking for? Every MSP offers their own range of services (base services such as IT and user support, integration, data backups and so on are generally comparable among providers). Consider whether their offerings coincide with the needs you’ve determined are greatest for your own company.
  • Does the MSP value security? While the cloud provides several inherent security measures, data security can always be enhanced. And should be. Therefore, look for an MSP who values your security as much as they do their own.
  • Does an MSP’s expertise match the values of your company? It’s great to gain the expertise of partnering with an MSP. Make sure they’re truly knowledgeable and certified in maintaining the systems you use, however, and the partnership becomes even more valued.
  • What are the potential costs and timeline to onboard? It’s important to know the different processes and styles of each MSP you look into. Make sure an MSP’s approach to everything they do meshes with your company’s own way of working.

What will the costs be? Typically, an MSP will charge a monthly fee for the services you secure from them. Some fees comes in the form of a Service Level Agreement, or SLA, other services are based on a time and materials (T&M) framework, and still others are priced by way of an all-inclusive “all-you-can-eat” model. Just make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for before you sign the contract. Also ensure there’s an option to scale services as needed.

Preventing data theft is vital, and Visual Edge IT is here to help. To begin, we recommend a risk assessment to identify and clearly define your company’s cybersecurity needs. Other resources we offer help your office and workforce operate as smoothly and securely as possible with few interruptions in service for your customers. Contact us to get started.