Security of your critical business data is paramount no matter if you are running a high profile transaction through a Virtual Data Room or just running your normal business transaction on a daily basis. Companies, regardless of size, rely on critical business data in order to succeed and flourish.
Cyber crime costs the UK’s economy as much as £27 billion a year, according to a 2012 report from the country’s Federation of Small Business, and a significant—and increasing—part of this comes from the way small businesses manage their information technology. Why does this happen? Mostly because the companies either have no data security systems in place, or because they don’t enforce the ones they have. It’s important to have a robust security policy for your company, and small businesses are no exception.
Assess the Risk to Your Business
Before you can implement any form of security policy, you need to establish what you’re protecting and what you’re protecting it from. Review the data you store and assess the value, sensitivity or confidentiality by understanding what will happen if there’s a breach in your security. This will give you a clear view of the risk to your business, which will enable you to create a suitable data security policy.
Devise a Systematic Approach
You can’t do anything without a logical strategy and approach. Your data security plan needs to cover:
- Physical Security: This includes separate, secure premises for your servers unless you use the facilities of a virtual data room. The reason for this is that your servers can be stolen during a break-in, and even if the information in encrypted the loss can set you back financially.
- Network Security: Hacking is one of the most common ways thieves steal important data, so strengthen your network by ensuring you have the necessary firewalls and other intrusion defence mechanisms in place.
- Employee Awareness and Training: The human factor is often the weakest link in the chain. Unless you’re using a professional virtual data room, you need to train your employees to understand the risks presented by casual behaviour and social engineering to the company.
- Data Segmentation: By segmenting your data and making certain information accessible only to those who really need it, you can limit the risk to the company. This is the approach taken by most virtual data room vendors, so there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
- Access Control: Restrict access to the network to users and sources that you have fully vetted and can trust. In spite of strict access policies, your users should have individual logins and passwords. By ensuring strong passwords that are changed regularly and limiting the number of failed login attempts, you create an added layer of data protection over the network.
- Document Management Policy: Implement version control of the documents as well as a policy that identifies which documents can be saved, edited, downloaded, printed and emailed. Discard drafts once they are finalized and determine how long electronic versions should be stored. Set guidelines for the safe disposal of both hard copy and paper documentation.
- Outsourcing Requirements: If your IT management or individual functions like network support are outsourced, review the processes used by your vendor to make sure they are handling your data with as much caution as you would get from a virtual data room provider.
- Policy Implementation You may not be able to implement your entire IT security policy overnight, but there’s nothing wrong with a phased approach. As long as you understand the risks you face and have crisis protocols in place to deal with any emergencies, you can introduce the new strategy step by step as you’re ready to do so.