Data security and business growth
Business owners often view data security as entirely separate to business growth, but they shouldn’t. In fact, the two should be seen as wholly interlinked. The effectiveness of your data security strategy will have a direct influence on your ability to grow your business. The weaker your data security strategy, the more vulnerable your business is to attack, which could prove extremely costly and damaging, significantly limiting your business’ growth potential.
Here’s some examples of how weak data security and subsequent cyber-attack will restrict the growth of your business:
- Financial loss – If you are victim to a ransomware attack, cyber criminals will demand a ransom in exchange for your important data, meaning you could end up paying out significant sums of money. Additionally, if your data is compromised you could be forced to pay hefty fines to authorities for not having the right security measures in place to protect yours and your clients’ data.
- Reputational damage – If your business suffers a cyber-attack, you will likely experience significant damage to your reputation and brand. Prospects will be far less likely to choose you over a competitor and clients or customers may choose not to work with you in future. In fact, reports show that 22% of breached businesses lose customers as a result, and 40% of these lose more than a fifth of their entire customer base.
- Productivity loss – Cyber-attacks can cause significant disruption to your devices, applications, and software. As such, your employees will likely experience extended periods of time where they are unable to work as normal, reducing productivity and thus limiting growth.
- Reduced sales – If your website is down due to a cyber breach, potential prospects and customers will be unable to visit your site, meaning you would lose out on important revenue.
- Irrecoverable data – If you don’t have an effective back up and disaster recovery plan in place as part of your data security strategy, you could end up losing lots of important data. A back up and disaster recovery plan will ensure your data is always retrievable in the event of a disaster, e.g., a cyber-attack, lost device, or natural disaster. Losing all of your data would cause serious disruption to your business, preventing it from achieving growth.
- Damaged SEO – Google regularly checks websites for evidence of malware or breaches. If it finds evidence of malicious activity associated with your website, it will ‘blacklist’ it, meaning your site loses it’s ranking on Google completely. This would significantly reduce the number of website visitors and leads you receive, preventing your business from reaching more customers and growing.
- Less time to focus on your business – More time spent worrying about cyber security and potential data breaches will limit the amount of time you have to focus on growing and developing your business. In fact, approximately 71% of business leaders claim that cyber security concerns impede their innovation. Having a reliable, comprehensive data security strategy in place will stop you worrying about security issues and give you the freedom to grow your business.
With that in mind, it’s vital that you have an effective cyber security strategy in place, implementing measures that will help protect your devices, emails, and employees. At Netstar, we always recommend a multi-layered approach to security. No one method is ever fully protective, so you need to introduce multiple different cyber security solutions to ensure nothing is overlooked and your cyber security is maximised.
But to help you get started with enhancing your security and growing your business, we’ve compiled our top five data security tools. If implemented now, these tools will help your business to prevent cyber-attacks and encourage growth over the next six months.
1. Top Quality Email Security
Effective email security and spam filtering will stop your employees having to sift through hundreds of unwanted emails. In fact, the average employee receives 121 emails per day, 50% of which are spam emails. It can take up to 16 seconds to decipher whether a spam email is legitimate or useful. With those figures in mind, your employees could be spending around 69.3 hours each year just sifting through spam emails. That’s nearly two weeks’ worth of work!
Put simply, time costs money. So you don’t want your employees spending their valuable time sifting through unwanted emails. These stats are especially shocking when you consider employees that are in revenue-generating roles. If a salesperson is spending 63.3 hours per year sorting through their emails, they’re likely missing out on valuable sales opportunities that could be generating revenue for your business and helping it grow.
Even more importantly, consider the number of malicious emails that are coming through to your employees. Whilst spam emails are time-consuming and frustrating, they’re unlikely to cause serious damage. But a malicious email will. Email is the most common method of cyber-attack. Cyber criminals will impersonate your colleagues, CEOs, vendors, clients and other well-known businesses to try and access your sensitive data. Currently, coronavirus scams are extremely popular, with scammers impersonating WHO or the government and offering individuals coronavirus antibody tests and vaccines in exchange for personal or financial data. You can read our blog on coronavirus scams to find out more about this. If a cyber criminal is able to convince your employees and access your data, that singular malicious email could cost your business immensely.
As such, you need to ensure you have effective and thorough email filtering software in place with a high detection rate for spam and malicious emails. This will prevent the number of unwanted emails entering your inboxes, therefore boosting productivity and maximising security. This will give your team more time to complete important tasks, as well as preventing cyber-attack, giving your business the best opportunity for growth.
2. Cyber Security Awareness Training
Your employees are your biggest security risk. If your team can’t easily identify and deal with potentially malicious content, they could fall for a cyber attack and accidentally cause a serious data breach. A quick and easy way to prevent this is to educate your staff about the types of threats they may receive and how to manage them.
For example, at Netstar we offer our clients quick and easy cyber security awareness training. This consists of short interactive videos and mini tests that quiz employees on their cyber security awareness. The videos are short and concise, so employers don’t need to worry about employees taking on extensive training and using up valuable time. The videos will teach employees about a variety of attacks, including social media attacks, social engineering, spam emails, and ransomware. The aim is to give employees the knowledge they need to recognise and avoid any malicious content.
Our cyber security awareness training then goes one step further. As well as completing relevant video training and tests, employees will also regularly receive spoof scam emails. These will imitate real-life examples of cyber-attacks, using all the same tools and tricks that cyber criminals commonly use. Employees will then be tested on whether they click on the email (and potentially put your data at risk) or whether they can recognise that the email is not legitimate and ignore it. If they do click on a spoof email, they’ll be notified that they’ve clicked on an email that was designed to appear malicious. They’ll then be automatically enrolled in extra, tailored training to ensure that their knowledge is refreshed, and they don’t make similar mistakes in future. Because the spoof emails represent real-life instances of cyber-attack, you’ll gain an accurate representation of the cyber awareness of your workforce.
Educating your staff via cyber security awareness training is an efficient way to prevent cyber-attacks and data breach, thus protecting you from financial loss and reputational damage, helping your business to grow.
Whilst this isn’t specifically a ‘tool’ for data security, it is a way that you can enhance your security whilst encouraging business growth. If you choose to partner with a proactive and experienced IT support provider, they can help you gain your own security accreditations. For example, at Netstar, we annually renew and achieve our Cyber Essentials, Cyber Essentials Plus, and ISO 27001 certifications. This proves our dedication to world-class cyber security and our ability to keep our client’s data safe. We have also helped our clients to achieve their own security accreditations, meaning you too could hold valuable certifications to demonstrate the efforts you take to maximise your security. You can find out how we helped one client gain their ISO 27001 certification here.
Achieving highly regarded cyber security accreditations will prove that you have the right measures in place to maximise the protection of your client’s data. This will not only prevent cyber-attack and data breach, it will also help improve your brand and reputation. For example, security certifications will help you build trust with existing clients and retain their business. It will also help you drive new business; potential prospects will be keen to work with you because you can prove that you will keep their data safe, meaning they’ll be likely to choose you over your less secure competitors. Moreover, potential business partners and investors will want to know that you have the right security measures in place and gaining the relevant certifications will contribute towards this.
4. A Password Manager
We all know that we should use complex passwords across every application, account, and system we use. But remembering complex passwords is often extremely frustrating and time-consuming. Instead, employees will opt for reusing the same, simple password in order to save time spent creating and forgetting complex passwords. But this is extremely dangerous. Cyber criminals now have automated systems which can take your data and use it to predict your login credentials. The simpler your passwords, the simpler they are to predict and the easier it is for cyber criminals to infiltrate your systems. Additionally, if you reuse your simple passwords, cyber criminals can then gain access to multiple different platforms containing varying amounts of your data.
An easy way to prevent password compromise is to use a password manager. With a password manager, you and your team can easily store and access your passwords securely, meaning it’s quick and easy for you to login to your accounts using complex passwords (and not having to worry about forgetting them). Additionally, with Netstar’s password manager, your employees with receive alerts if any of their passwords are too weak and do not meet security standards. They can, therefore, easily change these passwords, ensuring that your password security is enhanced companywide. Most effective password managers will also offer the option to automatically generate passwords, ensuring they’re secure enough.
Password managers will firstly improve your cyber security, reducing the chance of password compromise and thus a cyber-attack. Secondly, it will prevent employees from losing or forgetting passwords and becoming locked out of their systems. This will save them both time and frustration, allowing them to be more productive and complete valuable tasks that align with business growth.
5. Protect Your Devices
Your devices are the gateway to your important data, which is why it’s vital that they’re protected. Effective antivirus software, malware protection, and device encryption are all key ways that you can maximise your device protection. For example, device encryption will ensure that cyber criminals cannot access your data if your device is lost or stolen. All data on the device will be ‘encrypted’ meaning it becomes nonsensical to the unauthorised person who has your lost or stolen device. If the device is then found or returned, data can be decrypted, meaning it once again makes sense. Without device encryption, a lost or stolen device could be detrimental to your business, giving cyber criminals access to masses of sensitive data.
What’s more, data leaks are becoming more common than ever; 2020 saw some catastrophic data breaches to some of the world’s largest companies. For example, Thai cell network AIS suffered a huge data leak, whereby 8.3 billion logs of customer data became exposed. This impacted them financially and in terms of brand and reputation. Consider the impact a data breach would have on your business? How quickly could you recover? And how much would it affect your ability to grow, develop, and reach your business goals?
Whilst device encryption alone won’t protect your devices from data breach, it will contribute towards maximised security. We recommend consulting your IT Support partner to gain expert advice on how best to create a multi-layered data security strategy that ensures your devices aren’t compromised.
For more information on any of the technologies discussed in this article and how you can improve data security and encourage growth for your business please get in touch today.