Ways to Prevent Data Loss

January 21, 2022

As the world becomes ever more reliant on data, data security has become more critical. In 2021, the cost of data breaches rose to the highest level in 17 years. The average breach cost companies $4.24 million. Fortunately, preventing data loss is something your business can do. Taking a proactive approach to protecting your data and avoiding a data leak or breach will help your company save money, preserve its reputation and protect its most sensitive information.

8 Data Loss Prevention Tips

Data loss takes several forms. It can be unintentional, such as someone spilling a cup of coffee on their computer, or intentional, such as a bad actor breaking into your company’s system. Data loss occurs when information gets deleted, becomes corrupted or is otherwise unrecoverable. Since there are multiple ways for data loss to happen, there are numerous data loss prevention solutions.

1. Develop a Security Policy for Devices

Portable devices such as mobile phones or laptops allow your team members to work from home and increase your company’s overall productivity. The devices can also make your company more vulnerable to data theft or loss. For example, an angry former employee can steal a company laptop or mobile phone, access critical files and erase them. A third party can also cause harm if they get access to a company’s device.

Creating and implementing a security policy for any mobile or portable device helps to reduce the risk of data loss. A sign-in and sign-out policy lets your company keep tabs on where devices are and who had them last. A remote wipe process or a way of locking a computer or smartphone when you can’t track it down can also help to protect your business data.

2. Back up Your Data

Always have a backup strategy or several backups of your company’s data. Having copies of your most critical data means you won’t have to miss a beat if something goes wrong with the original version. It’s a good idea to have multiple backup versions of your information. If there’s an issue with one system, you can fall back on the next one.

Consider making three backup copies of your company’s most important data. One copy can be in the cloud, the others in a physical server. It’s also a good idea to have both off-site and on-site backup, as well as on-site backups. You should have two copies of important but less critical data and a single copy of the least important data.

3. Encrypt Sensitive Data

Another component of protecting your company’s data is ensuring that a bad actor can’t do much or anything with it if they get access to it. Encryption makes it exceedingly difficult for an unauthorized individual to comprehend or use stolen data.

Your data should be encrypted when it’s at rest, meaning when it’s on a server or in the cloud. It should also be encrypted when it’s in transit, such as when someone uploads to the cloud or emails a colleague or client.

4. Have a “No Food or Drink” Policy

A spilled cup of coffee or bottle of water can be a disaster for your company’s data. Implementing a no-eating or drinking policy when people are around company computers or other electronic devices can help to reduce data loss.

To help enforce the “no food or drink” policy, it can be helpful to have a designated area in your office or headquarters for employees to eat and drink. Encourage your team to take regular breaks or pauses for water or coffee or get a snack to help reduce the likelihood of them eating or drinking around sensitive equipment.

5. Use Software

Anti-virus and anti-malware software protects your system from programs that can wipe out data or from threats that can block access to your critical files. The software regularly scans your company’s computers and other devices and alerts you when it finds anything suspicious, such as a virus or an unauthorized software program. The software can also scan incoming and outgoing email messages to ensure they are virus-free.

6. Have a Password Policy

If you use passwords to protect access to your company’s devices and data, those devices and data are only as secure as the passwords are. Creating and enforcing a password policy makes it more challenging for a bad actor to crack employees’ passwords and get into your system.

Your password policy should consist of several parts. First, it should clearly outline what makes a strong password. Using a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters is a must. Ideally, your system won’t let employees get away with passwords such as “12345” or “password.”

In the best scenarios, the policy will require employees to change their passwords regularly, such as every other month or quarterly. Finally, to protect the password itself, it should always be encrypted or hidden when an employee types it. Some programs have a  “show password” option, which allows a person to verify that they input their password correctly. But that feature also makes it possible for an unauthorized passerby to see what another’s password is.

Finally, the password policy should require employees to log out of the system or any applications when they are finished using them.

7. Train Your Team

Implementing a password policy is just one aspect of training your team to protect your company’s data and prevent loss. It’s also a good idea to have ongoing training, informing employees of the risks of data breaches and data loss and their role in protecting company data.  Your training program can review email security, how to protect devices from power surges and how to identify potential vulnerabilities.

8. Update Equipment

In some instances, data loss occurs due to out-of-date or aging equipment. Hard drives aren’t lifetime devices. They will eventually wear down and fail. Regularly updating your company’s computer equipment before breakdown helps you avoid the loss of essential data. While it’s a good idea to create and follow an upgrade schedule, training your team to recognize any early signs of potential failure is also worthwhile.

Computers that get hot quickly or make loud noises when loading programs most likely have hard drives on their last legs. Replacing those at the first signs of failure will keep your company up and running.

Work With DataSpan to Help Prevent Data Loss

The best method for preventing data loss is a multi-prong approach that incorporates employee training, company policies and multiple backups. DataSpan offers cloud-based storage and off-site data centers to provide you with multiple methods of backing up and protecting your company’s most sensitive information. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your data from loss.