The cybersecurity industry has been pretty sizable for some time, and it’s only forecast to grow in the future. In recent years, there have been an increasing number of high-profile victims of hacking and breaches, which have compromised a lot of customer data and tarnished the brand names involved.

No entrepreneur wants their company to suffer from something preventable like this, and avoiding it requires a careful and educated approach. Here are some of the best ways for you to protect your customer’s information…

Start using a dedicated server

Looking to save money, a lot of business owners will decide to use a shared server to host all their important files. This means a couple of things.

First of all, there’ll be a range of different sites, programs and scripts all being run from the same machine. Secondly, it will mean that people other than your trusted employees will have access to the server.

As you can imagine, this can make your site and the data you use it to store much more vulnerable, simply due to another user’s weak security.

I know that a dedicated server is significantly more expensive than the other options on the market, but in today’s climate, you really can’t put a price on knowing your data is secure.

Encrypt data

This is a pretty obvious one, and yet countless new business owners manage to neglect it. Holding sensitive files, and leaving them unencrypted, is always a pretty big risk. Unencrypted data, especially when it’s sent through some kind of low-security channel, is easy pickings for a cybercriminal.

Make sure that all your sensitive data is encrypted using a reliable service. This is just one of the pointers often listed in articles on GDPR compliance, and is considered good practice by countless cybersecurity institutes around the world.

Restrict access

It may not be the most pleasant thought in the world, but sometimes, one of your employees could be the root of a cybersecurity breach at your company, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

As part of your company policy for managing records, you need to make sure that employees who have no real need to know should never have access to sensitive files, whether they be paper-based or electronic.

You should also make sure that all files are kept in one centralised location, with security measures to prevent anyone without the right security privileges from accessing it.

If you have any employees who need to access the company network while working from home or travelling, make sure the laptops and devices they use have secure VPN access.

Leverage a malware monitoring service

If your website gets hacked, you may have no idea until the bulk of the damage has been done. Fortunately, there are various websites, such as HackAlert, that will protect your website and all of its users from the threat of malware.

They can also notify you if and when your site is affected with malicious code, or otherwise compromised. There’s a lot of malware monitoring on the market these days which is designed for use with a centrally managed corporate server.

Shred your documents

Even though the biggest security threats are going to have a digital source, it’s still important to cover yourself against the risk of more traditional breaches. Most countries now have specific laws which require businesses to properly dispose of any information they have on customers.

If you fail to burn, shred of otherwise destroy paper files when you’re done with them, and it’s discovered you failed to, it can have serious repercussions for the company.

You probably have a lot on your plate as it is, but paper-based data theft is a very real threat. Have a system in place, like keeping a box of things to be shredded. The point here is that you should see the documents disposed of with your own eyes.

Get a wiping program

As I’m sure you’re aware, highlighting a file and then hitting “delete” doesn’t get rid of the file permanently. The laws I mentioned above on destroying sensitive documents also applies to digital information.

With this in mind, you’ll need a program that will not only remove a file from your immediate access, but wipe it completely from the hard drive of a computer.

Look around for some reputable wiping programs, and then start using them as part of your company’s day to day practice.

Your customers’ personal information is one of the most important pieces of data your business will ever hold – make sure you’re following these tips to keep it well protected.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (his free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.

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