Who is responsible for data protection in your organization? Whether you’re a large, established enterprise or a small startup, the answer should be the same: every member of your team is responsible for data protection.
Companies that put all the responsibility for data security and network security on one employee’s shoulders are almost guaranteed to suffer a data breach. If the majority of your team is left uneducated about data protection best practices, they’re more likely to make a business-critical mistake that can leave your data or the data of your clients exposed to cybercrime.
Small Businesses Are Big Targets
According to Verizon, one in three cyberattacks targets small to medium businesses. The sad truth is that many small businesses won’t survive the impact of a data breach. This is not only because of financial and operational considerations —which can be vast—but also due to the devastating blow to your business’s reputation once clients feel their data is no longer safe in your hands.
Why are smaller businesses such a common target? It could be because they often have poorer network security due to budgets. It could also be due to a lack of education around data protection and data security across the company as a whole - there is a lot that goes into addressing security properly!
A key factor in this is understanding why data needs to be protected and how every employee has an individual role to play.
Data Is a Valuable Asset
Many companies may assume that cyberattacks will take the form of an obvious hostile action such as ransomware or infiltrating the company website. However, cybercrime often occurs on a much smaller scale, like acquiring personal identification information. Unscrupulous hackers can use this information for:
Holding it for ransom (on an individual basis rather than company-wide)
Gaining access to fraudulent documents such as passports
Data is often sold to the highest bidder or used to extort funds, making it one of the most valuable assets for cybercriminals to target.
Every Employee Can Prevent Data Breaches
So why is data and network security everyone’s responsibility? The answer is simple: there are actions that every employee takes every day that can either protect or endanger the data held by your company. Every member of staff should know:
What your company’s data protection policy is, where to find it on your internal systems, and how to check for updates
To never share passwords - management should ensure that departing employees have had their access revoked in a timely manner and all passwords are changed
To never use default passwords and to follow password strength rules
To regularly change passwords and use different passwords for different systems
To never click on external links unless verified
To never connect external devices to company equipment
As best practices and other compliance requirements change, staff members should get a refresher so that they understand their responsibilities. Additionally, regular safety trainings can help reinforce the idea that data protection isn’t set and forget.
When each member of the team is informed and educated on data protection, your security efforts improve significantly. And while it’s near impossible to achieve absolute perfection, every member of the organization can be useful in preventing business and customer data from ending up in the wrong hands.