Feeling Insecure About Your Data?

Feeling Insecure About Your Data?

Technology Consulting

How secure is your personal information?

Many people cannot answer that question confidently, and that’s a problem.

Recent revelations about the NSA’s accumulation of personal information has raised a collective awareness of data security. We once assumed that our personal information was safe and secure, but now we no longer can.

In business, there can be no assumptions regarding data security. Corporate data breaches are, in fact, growing at an alarming rate. The Open Security Foundation working in conjunction with Javelin Strategy & Research reports an all-time high of 1,611 breaches in 2012, representing a 48% increase over 2011.

So what do those numbers mean in terms of dollars? In a recent global analysis conducted by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Symantec, the organizational cost per data breach is $5.4 million. The cost per record is $188. Thus, chief executives and business owners must treat the issue as though their companies, and the data they hold, are continuously under attack.

In addition to financial repercussions of a data breach is the social impact. A data breach not only tarnishes a company’s hard-earned reputation, but they also violate people’s trust. Accepting that reputation has a quantitative value is a must. It can be just as material to the company’s bottoms line as inventory, receivables, real estate or any other balance sheet asset.

Businesses as well as individuals can be a target. When it comes to protecting your business and confidential data, the stakes are high. The security of your computer and data is crucial for both you and your company. Lost or stolen information can reveal company secrets and expose confidential or personal information. The more you can do to keep your computer secure, the safer your information will be. In a Microsoft article discussing ways to work more securely, they recommend these 10 ways that you can help protect your computer, your data, and your company’s network.

  1. Work with your IT department – Installing the appropriate patches and updates that your IT department recommends will keep your computer and company’s network as secure as possible.
  2. Use strong passwords – Passwords provide the first line of defense against unauthorized access. Strong passwords are considerably harder to crack, even with the latest software.
  3. Don’t enable the Save Password option – Make it mandatory for you, and especially for someone else trying to access your computer, to enter your password on all operating system or application settings. Allowing for the password to be saved negates the purpose of having the password at all.
  4. Use network file shares instead of local file shares – Use file shares to collaborate with colleagues on documents rather than opening your computer to them, and enable access to only those that need it. It you are working as a team, there are many options for collaboration, for example Microsoft SharePoint.
  5. Lock your computer when you leave your desk – If you are going to be away from your desk for a while, lock your computer. You can also set your computer to lock automatically when it has been idle for a certain length of time.
  6. Use password protection on your screensaver – You may step away from your desk for longer than expected. Make sure your computer locks itself after a specified length of time to protect your information.
  7. Encrypt files containing confidential or business critical files – To keep unauthorized people from accessing your data, even if your computer is lost or stolen, encrypting all sensitive data will keep it as secure as possible.
  8. Don’t open questionable emails – If an email message just doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. Ensure that you have the appropriate spam and malware filtering software installed to protect your information.
  9. Encrypt email messages when appropriate –  Anytime you’re sending confidential or business-critical information, encrypt the email and any files attached to it. Only recipients who have the private key that matches the public key you use can encrypt the message.
  10. Use the Junk Email Filter in Outlook –  Not only is it annoying to receive spam or junk messages, but those emails contain potentially harmful viruses that damage your computer and company’s network. Use the Junk Email Filter to reduce the amount of junk email messages and spam.

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