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5 Ways to Keep Your Data Secure (IT Experts Share Their Tips)

Tristen Cooper

Programmer, Man working with computer programming

As a thriving business, you store a huge amount of data – sometimes without even realizing it. In addition to your company’s internal data, you’re likely also storing customer data like email addresses, passwords, and financial information. This data is incredibly valuable, and you’ll need to be proactive to prevent data breaches. 

Many small businesses overlook digital data protection measures until it is too late. Unfortunately, cybercrime is an ongoing threat affecting everyone, from solopreneurs to major corporations. Roughly 45 percent of US companies had experienced a data breach in 2021. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best ways to prevent your data from getting into the wrong hands. 

Key Takeaways

  • Data breaches can happen as a result of many different cyberattacks, including phishing, spyware, ransomware, and more. 
  • Installing a firewall and anti-virus software program across your network can prevent many data breaches, but these are not foolproof. 
  • Each member of your team should use two-factor authentication, private internet connections, and other best practices to further protect against data breaches.
  • Since these strategies aren’t completely foolproof, it is important to have a backup plan in place. 

Why Is Data Protection Important For Businesses?

We spend more time online than ever before, whether it’s working, socializing, or relaxing with some entertainment. As a result, digital data has become more valuable than ever, and hackers are constantly developing new strategies to hack vulnerable businesses. 

Even a small data breach can cost your company time and money. Viruses and other attacks can damage your devices, resulting in lost sales. Many hackers will also charge a ransom to return your data, which can be financially devastating. On top of that, data breaches can damage your company’s reputation. Today’s consumers are protective of their personal data and expect it to be stored securely. If you can’t provide consistently secure data protection, your customers will seek out other companies that can. 

A robust data security strategy not only protects your customers and employees but it is also an investment in the future of your business. It’s also required in many industries. As cybersecurity threats become more common, many industries are now regulating data storage. While blanket data regulation laws in the US are limited, many industries and professional organizations have their own stricter regulations. 

Expert Tip: What are the top 1-3 things every SMB should implement with their employees to ensure data is kept secure?


  • Multi Factor Authentication
  • Security Awareness Training with Phishing
  • End Point Security (EDR)

Ken Kizzee, Head of IT Security at Parachute

How To Protect Your Business Data

There are many best practices that your company can implement to keep sensitive information safe. Here are some of the strategies that IT experts recommend to protect against data losses. 

1. Conduct Inventory Checks

To protect your data, you first need to know what information you have stored, where it’s located, and who has access to it. Regular inventory checks are necessary to identify potential vulnerabilities and improve your digital security strategy. For example, former employees might still have access to your systems. This is a perfect time to assess access levels for each staff member to keep private information as secure as possible. 

Inventory checks are also a good time to reassess whether you need to collect certain pieces of data. Are you collecting any personal information that isn’t necessary? Are there ways to streamline or simplify the data you collect to make it less vulnerable? These considerations can help you minimize risk across your organization. 

It may also be helpful to conduct security tests at the same time as your inventory checks. This ensures that your security programs are working properly and gives you an opportunity to correct any problems before they get worse. 

2. Develop Access Control Policies

You can use various access control policies to ensure that only essential team members have access to sensitive data. A great place to start is with two-factor authentication. This requires users to provide a separate piece of information in addition to their password to log in. A common approach is to send a code to a separate device via text message or email. This strategy helps to prevent identity theft. 

Every user on your network needs to have a strong password that isn’t easy to guess. You can minimize risk even further by using different passwords for different sections of your network or site. Restricting controls to specific users can also minimize the potential for security breaches. 

Beyond this, your company needs to have a robust firewall in place. While firewalls are not foolproof, they can prevent many viruses, spyware, and other cyberattacks from making their way through. Adding a more comprehensive anti-virus software and more layers of security can provide further protection. 

Expert Tip: What are the top 1-3 things every SMB should implement with their employees to ensure data is kept secure?


“For companies using cloud providers like AWS or Azure, we recommend paying extra attention to root account security. As long as root accounts are safe and staff members know how to act in a security incident, it’s possible to recover from many other kinds of mistakes and security issues. But if access to cloud accounts at the root level is compromised, the outcomes can be dramatic for a company’s customers and have a lasting impact on business reputation.”


Karl Robinson, CEO at Logicata

3. Establish Data Policies

A system with robust security features is only one part of data access control. You will also need your employees to commit to using cyber security best practices in their day-to-day work. Putting specific data policies in place can help your team make smarter decisions when it comes to accessing and managing data. Depending on how tech-savvy your team is, you may also need to provide ongoing education to help them properly adhere to your privacy and security measures. 

Ideally, your team should completely avoid using unsecured networks to access secure data. This can be tricky if team members work remotely or use public WiFi throughout the day. While working from a coffee shop can be convenient, you never know who else has access to the network and what their intentions are. If you have a remote or hybrid work setup, make sure that your employees have access to either a secure wireless network at home or access to an office. 

Related: How To Stay Safe On Public WiFi

Your team should also have a good understanding of basic internet safety protocols. Everyone should know how to identify malicious websites and emails to avoid phishing scams. Additionally, everyone should know how to create a strong password and change their password at regular intervals. These security practices apply to both computers and mobile devices—no matter where you’re accessing the network from, data protection practices should always be in place.

Related: How To Identify Phishing Emails

Beyond this, you will need to put together a detailed data strategy that everyone can refer to. Having a set company-wide data strategy prevents confusion and ensures that everyone knows what to do if a problem arises. These policies should define how data is stored in the network, what strategies you are using to prevent data breaches, and how to recover data if it is compromised. You can update your data policies as necessary to account for changes as your network grows. 

These policies should be put in place as early on in your company’s development as possible. Having codified data policies in place early on can prevent data breaches and ensure that everyone is on the same page. While you may not think you need data protection policies in place early on in your company’s development, the unfortunate reality is that everyone is vulnerable to security breaches, regardless of your level of success. 

When new employees join your team, review your data protection practices as part of their onboarding to set your team up for success. 

Expert Tip: What are the top 1-3 things every SMB should implement with their employees to ensure data is kept secure?


“A few good tips to keeping data secure; firstly, never allow anyone but your IT firm access to your PC. Next, instead of clicking a redirect link right away, hover over it with your mouse first to confirm it goes to the proper site.”


Justin Colantonio, Co-Founder and Partner at Total Technology Resources

4. Use Data Encryption

Keeping your data encrypted is an essential part of keeping it safe. Data encryption is the practice of converting the data into a cipher text so that only those with authorized access can read it. Hackers can read your data even without a password if your data isn’t encrypted. Many of today’s cloud platforms and other data storage technologies automatically encrypt everything. 

When searching for a cloud provider for your business, make sure to verify that they use strong encryption for all of their clients. There are many different cloud providers on the market, and not every option is of equal quality. Before committing to a cloud storage provider, make sure to review their digital security practices to ensure you are comfortable with them. 

Expert Tip: What are the top 1-3 things every SMB should implement with their employees to ensure data is kept secure?


“Data security is a must in today’s environment, and it’s particularly challenging when employees are working remotely, which is becoming more and more common. The number one thing that businesses should do is to make sure that employees are working on company computers rather than their own personal computers. That way you know exactly what is on their device and have control over the data. Second, you should use encryption methods to protect emails and passwords. Third, make sure employees understand the risks of spam and phishing emails so they don’t get caught up in scams designed to breach the system.”


Esther Strauss, co-founder of Step by Step Business

5. Create A Disaster Recovery Plans

Unfortunately, no matter how much you prepare, data breaches can still happen. Cybercriminals are constantly developing new strategies to gain unauthorized access to secure systems. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to have a reliable disaster recovery plan in place. A detailed disaster recovery plan will protect your business financially and help you get your operations up and running again after a data breach. 

Your disaster recovery plan should detail the steps you will take to recover your data and secure your operations in the moments after a data breach. This plan should also define the ways that you will protect your customers and rebuild their trust after a data breach. 

Ideally, you should have data stored in multiple places so that you don’t lose any valuable information in the event of a breach. Many companies use on-site data storage in addition to cloud storage for their most valuable information. 

Final Thoughts

Data breaches are more common than you might think, and it’s never too early to prepare for them. Simple steps like data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and using secure networks can protect your company’s most valuable data. Adequate data protection will save your company money and protect your reputation in the long run. 

If you’re unsure where to start with your data protection strategy, consider investing in managed IT services. An IT professional can help you identify vulnerabilities in your security system and implement the right protection measures.