Keeping data safe can be a huge worry for New Zealand businesses. Now’s the ideal time to get your cyber-security reviewed, updated, and tightened – before a breach occurs!

We live in a digital world where our company information and (crucially) our customers’ data are under constant attack. Hackers are always looking for new ways to break into weaker systems and databases, resulting in numerous significant data breaches in recent years.

It isn’t just an IT issue if your cyber-security is breached and data is compromised. It’s a breach of trust between you, your customers and your suppliers – one that can be hugely damaging financially and for your brand reputation as consumers’ perception of your organisation plummets.

Quite simply, organisations must take cyber-security seriously. What can you do to enhance your cyber-security and protect your confidential and valuable data?

In the 21st century, your data = your business
Have you ever considered just how much data your business holds?

It’s the customer information in your CRM system, the supplier details in your invoicing system, the financial data in your accounting software, and the personnel details in your payroll. It’s your bank account details, confidential client information and your business’ secret intellectual property or hard-won R&D innovation.

If you lose your data, you damage your business. Assuring the safety and security of data and systems should be a top priority for any business owner.

Here are seven tips to help you boost your cyber-security:

  • Make cyber security a company-wide concern
    If a data breach occurs, there’s no use blaming the IT department after the fact. Cyber-security has to be a concern for the whole business, with clear advice, processes and training in place for all staff members. The better your people are prepared for safeguarding company data, the less chance there will be of a security error or accidental data breach.
  • Keep devices and computing hardware secure
    Employees using laptops or work mobile devices must take all reasonable steps to keep this hardware safe. Ensure they understand not to leave computers unattended in laptop bags in a coffee shop or their phone unsupervised on a hot desk. Offer secure lockers and desk drawers where laptops and devices can be secured and encourage everyone to consider the security implications of leaving hardware anywhere other than in the office.
  • Use a secure network connection
    When connecting to work applications, databases and shared folders, always use the company network or an approved virtual private network (VPN). Using a secure network connection dramatically reduces the chances of your data being intercepted and stolen. VPNs allow employees to log in securely when off-site or working at a client’s premises.
  • Save important data in the right place
    You should have clear protocols regarding what kind of data can be stored and where. If employees are saving spreadsheets full of confidential client information on their laptop hard drives, you are just one lost laptop away from a security breach. Set clear guidelines on which drives and folders to use, and ensure only authorised people can access confidential folders and content.
  • Use proper authentication and encryption
    Use two-factor or even multi-factor authentication to access all your cloud and SaaS tools. And ensure you have proper data encryption of any confidential information that’s shared. By putting stringent security steps in place, you significantly reduce the risk of a slip-up.
  • Factor in the added security threat of WFH
    With so many employees now working from home (WFH) for at least part of their role, there are extra threats to consider. Effective cyber-security at home means using a secure VPN, storing laptops safely, always using the latest versions of applications, and not sharing passwords with family or flatmates.
  • Keep accurate records of any security breaches
    If the worst does happen, it’s vital to log every single security or data breach. You must be transparent about what’s happened when communicating with customers, suppliers or employees who may have been affected. The sooner all your stakeholders are aware of the issue, the sooner you can work to resolve the problem and limit the potential damage.

Speak to IT security experts and protect your data

Keeping your data safe and secure is fundamental for any viable business. If you want to reduce your security worries, it’s sensible to speak to a cyber-security expert. They will be able to review your current systems, networks and security practices and advise you on the key actions needed to tighten up your security.

About Pathfinder Solutions

Pathfinder Solutions advisory team members have either owned or managed businesses, or are investors themselves, so we know first-hand the challenges you face in your world.

Sure we’re Accountants, but the best solutions in business come from focusing on more than just the numbers. Our real-world business experience delivers just that.

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