Four Best Practices in Data Security

18 Nov 2021

When companies shifted operations to remote work at the height of the pandemic, many were concerned with how they could maintain proper data security. As part of social distancing restrictions, it was important for businesses to put employee safety first. By doing so, several employees would be working without access to their office’s robust infrastructure. This meant procedures like new hire interviews and various IT functions were done in a limited, remote manner.

Gone were the times we could rely on a skilled IT department for our in-person troubleshooting needs. As often the most hands-on department of any company, they are the first point of call for any technical issues that arise. The pandemic changed the way they approached particular tasks and procedures. Many wondered how impacted an IT department’s functions and responsibilities would be. After all, questions about connection security and how they would still provide services to those working at home would arise.

However, data protection and security often do not need having an IT department always on call. A little knowledge and diligence can go a long way in protecting sensitive information. It also helps you become more tech-savvy and aware of what it means to safely navigate online. 

Data Security Comes In Many Forms

In a way, companies should rethink what it means to have strong data protection. Sure, implementing two-step authentication and multi-tiered passwords are some ways this can be achieved. But education, awareness, and habits can have a lasting effect in the long run. Consider the following example for a moment. When we receive phone calls from unknown numbers, we either choose not to answer or ask questions to the caller. How many of us have also exercised a level of caution when receiving unsolicited emails, texts, or private messages? The same principles can be applied when we share personal information online. 

Let’s look at some of these practices that anyone can adopt.

Always Verify Trusted Sources

A common way people fall victim to data theft is through fake information. Online thieves can create email addresses or websites that look legitimate at first glance. Some take it a step further by taking over social media accounts that send legitimate messages. These messages often contain pop-up windows or links embedded with malware or viruses that make data vulnerable.

Be wary of less than reputable sites that offer promos.

As the old saying goes, “trust but verify”. That’s why it’s important to be cautious of links and attachments in emails from senders you don’t recognize. Phishing is when data and information are stolen through the use of links disguised as being legitimate. Should this happen, a good rule of thumb is to avoid entering personal or company information. An IT department can help install email authentication technology that will filter unauthorized emails. 

Never Forget to Backup 

Backing up data doesn’t just mean saving multiple copies of information. It is also a matter of where they are stored and accessed. This also means being on top of the latest antivirus and malware protection updates. When your antivirus program notifies you of an update, it should be installed right away. A company’s IT department should also frequently update its employees and encourage them to update their programs immediately. This approach also applies to personal devices used in and out of work. Installing updates promptly helps defend against the latest cyber threats.

For IT specialists, John Brackett of Smash Balloon proposed following the “3-2-1 rule” for backing up data. The rule states that there should be three different copies of data on two types of media and one copy off-site. Brackett believes that by doing so, companies can easily get their sites back up and running should a breach of any scale occur.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

Let’s face it: some of us are never going to fully grasp the technical aspects of IT. That’s why your IT department should be there to always help. They know that there are several intricacies to what they do and can help with several issues. If you’re ever unsure about problems that come with data security and connection, IT is there to help.

Avoid network issues with by always reaching out to your IT department.

At the same time, they should be easily approachable when these said issues arise. No one should feel nervous about not being able to solve something they think could be simple. When the time comes, reach out to your support team for any questions that you have. In doing so, you can establish a stronger working relationship with the department. It’s a good idea to work with IT if something like a software update hits a snag or if you experience consistent connection issues. Don’t let a simple problem become more complex by attempting to “fix” it. 

Education and Training Go A Long Way

Despite all these approaches, many security experts will say that an organization’s most vulnerable element is its people. No matter how sophisticated or advanced your protocols are, the people using them are the ones most susceptible to attacks. That’s why companies need to take time to train their employees on their responsibilities. When educating staff, the IT department can discuss common issues like the severity of cyber theft and how they affect the company. They can also elaborate on current policies and even ask for some new ideas on how to streamline security. 

Being a little technical savvy helps as well. Earlier we stated that asking your IT department for help can prevent small issues from becoming complex. For the users’ part, learning a thing or two from them can be very helpful. From proper hardware installation and basic troubleshooting, a little knowledge can go a long way. That knowledge can save time when you contact support and they need quick access and information to resolve an issue.

Data Security in and out of work

Several of the safety tips mentioned here apply in a work setting, but can also be used in your personal life. The need for strong passwords, backed up data and online knowledge doesn’t stop after work. By making use of these principles and tools in your daily routine, you can start to form habits that allow for more secure browsing. Taking a few seconds to verify a link or to ask someone for help can save major issues and headaches in the future.