Between the Equifax data breach and the Krack wifi hack, 2017 was a year full of cybersecurity slips. So far, 2018 hasn’t fared much better. The discoveries of Spectre and Meltdown have caused developers to scramble for solutions. So what can your business do to protect its valuable data and important financial information?

We’ve put together a list of data security solutions for 2018. These tips are far more than resolutions you should try to follow. They’re a checklist you need to follow if you’re going to keep your data, your business, and your customers safe.

Implement a Password Policy

This is the first step you should take this year and probably the easiest. A password policy is a must when it comes to small business data security. Put a policy in place and enforce it. One small employee mistake can lead to huge data loss.

  • Require the password to be between 12-15 characters
  • Don’t allow employees to repeat passwords
  • Require that passwords are updated every few months
  • Enable two-step authentication for added security (PIN numbers, security questions, etc.)

Use a VPN

A VPN is a host server through which you and your employees can access the internet. Your data in transfer is encrypted, making it harder for outside parties to see your online activity. This means that hackers can’t steal it and third-party companies can’t sell it.

Worried about the repeal of Net Neutrality? A lot of us are. However, a VPN can provide some peace of mind by allowing you to access online data while encrypted. This means ISPs won’t be able to block your access to certain sites.

Put an End to Removable Storage

There once was a time when everyone carried around flash drives (And before that, CD-ROMs and floppy disks!). However, the popularity of the cloud is bringing this to an end…and for good reason. When we carried around flash drives and floppy disks, we were carrying our personal data around in our pockets where it could fall out or get stolen at any time.

However, in addition to being physically lost or stolen, removable storage can be exposed to viruses or hackers via public devices or networks. Nearly 25% of viruses are caused by USB drives, so ban removable storage from your workplace.

Update Your Software

We’ve brought this up a lot, but updating your software is an easy (though not always quick) way to prevent security issues. Software updates “patch” security vulnerabilities and are rolled out whenever developers learn of the latest data threats.

That little popup that asks “Do you want to update now?” can be annoying, but a few minutes of inconvenience can help prevent a few months of cybersecurity cleanup.

Invest in Cyber Liability Insurance

More than 75% of small businesses don’t have cybersecurity insurance. This may be why a majority of them never recover from a hack. They declare bankruptcy and close because they cannot afford to pay the tens of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in legal fees, fines, and damages.

Cyber liability insurance is something all businesses should invest in. It covers legal fees, investigative costs, and fines, as well as media liability, extortion costs, and third-party damages, protecting your wallet and the future of your business.

Build a Disaster Recovery Plan

You want a plan in place before a disaster occurs because, no matter what measures you take, a breach is still bound to happen at some point in the future. It’s best you be prepared.

Assemble a team of diverse experts in IT, human resources, and PR to handle all the financial, technical, and public impacts a data breach may cause. Have them work together to come up with a game plan for before, during, and after a breach. How will you inform customers and partners? Who will call the authorities? Who will be in charge of backing up data and wiping devices?

You have a disaster recovery plan for natural disasters and financial mishaps. Make sure you have one for cyber disasters, too.

Small Business IT Support

Data security solutions require a lot of planning. However, 2018 is just beginning. Make the most of the time you have and get started. Put policies in place, assemble emergency teams, and invest in insurance to keep you covered.

You also don’t have to go through this checklist alone. Our small business IT support team can help you develop data security solutions guaranteed to keep your business safe. Reach out to our tech management team to learn more about the data security solutions available to you.