If the words privacy, confidentiality, data protection, and security strategy are not a part of your company’s discussions, then you may have a serious problem. These days, it is unlikely that any company is immune to the possibility of a security breach. It seems like almost every single week there is “shocking” news of a massive online intrusion, with analysts usually estimating that the personal data of millions of employees or clients may have been affected.
However, this isn’t exactly shocking anymore. As much as the media enjoys sensationalizing stories, people cannot be surprised that this is such a regular occurrence. Data is powerful and valuable, and as long as this is true, there will be shameless individuals seeking to capitalize on it in any way possible. As a result, company leaders, and the parties with whom they transact, such as consultants and legal counsel, must proactively and aggressively outline a coherent security strategy that focuses on the vigorous protection of any and all company data, including matters contained within a company’s internal contracts (such as employee agreements), as well as information pertaining to all external contracts. Failure to do so has the potential to inflict serious harm on a company, ranging from the financial drain associated with cleaning up the mess to the possibility of an irreparably damaged reputation and lost business. Plus, if it is internal data relating to employees or IP matters, there is the potential for endless, costly litigation.
There are various ways companies can go about securing company data, and at the minimum, all software solutions that are utilized for handling sensitive company information, including the information contained within contracts, should have security at their core. Here are four simple yet powerful features that smart leaders look for to protect private company information.
Strict Access Controls
Any software that is used to store sensitive information should have the ability to limit access. In general, a solid solution will provide administrator roles, allowing anyone with such designation to access and oversee all stored data. In addition, there should be permissions-based roles that restrict a user’s ability to access information s/he doesn’t really need to view. This reduces the number of individuals unnecessarily accessing and viewing any confidential information and diminishes the possibility of it becoming intentionally or inadvertently disseminated.
Data can’t just be stored on a password-protected hard drive or in an online repository. There has to be more than the typing of a word and perhaps some numbers and symbols between your data and prospective hackers. Two-factor authentication requires anyone seeking access to a specific solution to enter more than one password at different entry points. This is the single most effective thing smart leaders implement at their company to protect from data breaches. Most email clients already have two-factor authentication, and any software with security at its core will offer it as well. And the good news is two-factor authentication is simple, effective, and usually free.
Important company data that is saved electronically needs to be encrypted. A secure system should encrypt data both in transit and at rest. This makes data unreadable should a system be accessed by unauthorized parties.
In addition to preventing people from accessing data and requiring strict entry protocols, it is important to monitor any data-related activities. Fortunately, many software solutions track all actions taking while using them. Thus, if something specific is inappropriately revealed, it will be a lot easier to trace it back to the source.
There is a common misconception that robust security measures require the investment of exorbitant sums of money, but this just isn’t true anymore. Depending on your company’s unique needs, there is no doubt a solution out there that can effectively protect your company’s data at a reasonable cost.