Small Business & Startups and Technology

5 best practices for data protection

December 31, 2018
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Data protection is the process of safeguarding important information from corruption, compromise, or total loss. In an almost completely digital world, where the amount of new data created and stored each day is seemingly immeasurable, the importance of data protection cannot be overlooked.

Whether it be company emails, financial sheets, medical records, or legal contracts, data is the lifeblood for most companies. As we move into a new year, now is a great time to take stock of your current data protection plans and look for ways that you can improve. Here are five data protection best practices to keep in mind in 2019:

1. Implement the 3-2-1 backup rule

This easy-to-remember acronym for a common approach to keeping your data safe could save you from serious headaches in the future if an IT disaster should strike. The rule is to keep at least three (3) copies of your data, two (2) of which are local, but on different devices, and at least one (1) copy offsite from your business. While there is no such thing as a perfect backup system, the 3-2-1 method is a great practice for a majority of businesses.

2. Don’t forget cloud backups

A large number of businesses are using cloud-based email services, like GSuite or Office 365, for all emails; however, people need to remember that these platforms do not provide extensive backups.

Cloud-based email services will not retain email backups for more than 30 days at most, or 10,000 files, and because of this, it is crucial that separate third-party backup systems be in place, especially for companies utilizing massive amounts of data.

3. Understand industry compliance and requirements

Certain industries have very stringent data backup compliances and requirements, and it is critical to understand what is required of your business to stay within the law.

Those working in the medical, defense, or law fields will have especially strict rules, like the requirement of encrypted data or a detailed backup and recovery plan that is documented in writing and tested frequently. All employees should have full understanding of your company’s data protection requirements and any new procedures should be communicated as soon as possible.

4. Train employees and have a plan in place

While data can be lost because of malicious intent (hackers or ransomware), one main cause of data loss is human error. If an employee accidentally deletes a sensitive file, corrupts a company folder, or wipes clean their email backup, there should be a plan in place so that immediate action can be taken to correctly — and quickly — recover any lost data.

Companies should train their employees on all data protection and recovery procedures annually, or whenever new systems are put in place.

5. Encrypt your backup data

While having backups in place is key for data protection, it also is important to encrypt those backups. Data encryption, or translating data into another form so that only people with access to a key or password can read it, will give you control over your company’s sensitive information, ensuring it does not fall in the wrong hands.

This level of protection goes far beyond the typical password access, and with a wide variety of encryption services available, it is something every business should consider.

The thought of corrupting or completely losing vital business data is a nightmare for most, so it is important to be proactive with your data protection and ensure there are protocols and procedures in place for quickly bouncing back. Start the New Year off right and consult with an IT team to understand what level of data protection is best for your business.