There is huge legal, ethical and commercial pressure on businesses to keep personal information private and secure. Get it wrong, and it is not just non-compliance fines you face. Breaking customer trust can have far more serious, long-term repercussions.
It’s not getting any easier to guard against data breaches though.
Hackers, fraudsters and other cybercriminals are constantly upping their game. They use increasingly sophisticated methods to steal data or disrupt businesses, including constantly updated malware to breach firewalls and avoid detection.
Even the biggest companies with the deepest pockets have shown how vulnerable IT is to security threats. Both Dixons Carphone and British Airways announced a serious loss of sensitive data, within months of the EU General Data Protection Regulation going live.
A knee-jerk reaction to this worrying IT landscape would be to throw lots of cash at the problem. There are far-reaching IT solutions, including complete system transformations, migrating all your data on to new devices and integrated software or Cloud platforms.
Though this represents the ideal solution, it is not always financially feasible or practical, even if you use affordable IT support London companies.
The good news is, there are some quick fixes to use to improve IT security.
Starting with possibly the simplest IT security measure you could be overlooking. You must change passwords regularly and use unique ones across different systems. Issue staff guidance on the passwords they can use too, including a strong mix of numbers, symbols and upper and lower case letters.
Map IT for better transparency
It’s surprising how many companies – even smaller ones – lack clarity on what devices and systems their staff use.
Auditing your IT ensures that the data management processes you have in place can be applied consistently, by your whole team. It’s a matter of checking with all staff regularly, to audit IT use and make sure there are no mavericks in your midst!
Mind the gaps! Act quickly on cracks and overlaps
When you periodically audit your IT, make sure your hardware, software and network are still fit for purpose, including providing smooth connectivity and integration.
Apart from leaving gaps that can allow data breaches, operating your business from outdated devices and systems – or ones that are not keeping up with the demands on them – has other potential repercussions. It could be impeding the smooth flow of data, limiting collaboration and communication, or encouraging duplicated or missing data entries.
Having complete visibility and control of IT means you can update where and when necessary.
Information and training
It’s easy to assume that staff – particularly Millennials – are comfortable with IT and understand the data security pressures you face.
The truth is that even smaller London businesses will have a wide range of abilities and different degrees of understanding in using IT. Putting everyone on the same IT course then “cutting them loose” doesn’t always work.
Regularly updated and reinforced IT training should focus on proper data management. It should leave plenty of room for staff to learn at their own pace and flag up when they are confused.
Following on from the above, your team should be encouraged to each play their role in championing IT security.
Explain to them (and regularly remind them) the pitfalls of IT security flaws. Make sure they’re clear on their roles and responsibilities. Invite them to speak up when they have concerns or queries. A “no blame” culture helps identify potential data breaches and other security issues before they happen! Or at least, enables swift action.
With companies falling over themselves to issue compliance statements and update data privacy policies, there’s sometimes one aspect of IT security that can be overlooked.
You now have legal as well as ethical obligations to dispose of data in a timely and thorough fashion. You hopefully have systems in place to delete data in the required timeframe. However, don’t forget to wipe clean hardware, and dispose of it responsibly.
This too may sound like common sense, but it’s surprising how many London companies fail to apply this when tackling their day to day priorities. You absolutely must keep on top of software and Cloud platform updates! These are issued with good reason, generally to put up barriers to new viruses or to iron out system glitches.
If your IT consultancy London supplier flags up an update, make sure you respond instantly.
Social media TMI
This stands for Too Much Information! You need clear policies and penalties for oversharing on social media. It’s far too easy to breach general security, not just data protection, if everyone in the team can post what they want from (or about) work.
Third party control
It’s all very well monitoring your internal IT provision and use, but you also need to keep a close eye on your supply chain.
When it comes to IT security London companies are well within their rights to check how compliant and efficient third parties are too. Make sure your data management standards apply to any suppliers you use.
As well as all the above, you need strategies to fall back on if something still goes wrong.
Planning for the worst scenarios means you can act quickly to minimise the impact and keep your business trading. This should include knowing who to call for urgent IT consultancy London or beyond. Preferably a company that already handles your IT and can deal insightfully and swiftly with any problems.