In today’s age, information is the most valuable currency. In an organizational framework, different types of data is being used in applications, software and systems. This data is extremely useful, but most of the times also poorly managed. Inefficient data management practices can lead to serious loss of data and confidential information.
Digital thieves are always on the lookout to steal personal information, financial records, intellectual property, or any other data they can get. There are many uses for this data, they may set up credit cards or sell the personal information to a third party. They may even use it to drain your bank account.
The importance of data security cannot be underestimated. Therefore, a business must do everything it can to ensure data privacy and security. Your network, computers, mobile devices —you must protect everything from external attacks.
Data is captured in systems varying from enterprise resource planning (ERP) to supply chain and salesforce automation systems, yet an Information Difference survey in 2011 found that only 40% of organizations made any attempt to enforce data quality across the enterprise. Indeed, 22% of organizations had no data quality tools whatever. -Computer Weekly
Data management is not limited to storing data and backing up files. Here are some ways to manage the security of your organization’s data:
- 1. Know the value of your data
First and foremost, you should know the importance of your data. Data management is not a one-size-fits-all method. You must know the type of data you have to implement a management plan.
The big question is: Is your data ready for analytics? Plenty of companies have analyzed data which was not ready to be analyzed in the first place. It means that their data was either insufficient or incorrect.
Maybe the company infrastructure didn’t allow a new data format, or maybe they worked with outdated data. These factors are harmful because neither you nor your vendors will be able to fully benefit from the uses of updated data to maximize profit. Ask yourself all these questions, as it will determine the right path for your data policy.
- 2. Track time and data
Work requires time to be completed. And time is our most valuable resource. With all the different levels of employees in a company and the data that is generated from each level every day, companies need to develop systems to track time spent by employees on tasks, against the quality of data generated. This will help you gauge productivity levels. Time tracking means that you are fully aware of the time each employee spends at work, and how much data they are submitting every day. To fully integrate these actions, you can make use of a time tracking software like Minterapp that manages data and time for each of your employees and notes the tasks they are engaging in.
It also provides a detailed report for each hour spent on each project at the end of the month, so you don’t have to remind employees about filling manual reports for the number of hours billed on each client/ project.
- 3. Simplify access
Simplifying access means that the data can be easily found when you require it the most. Don’t bury the data you use every day under multiple encryption files. Security is of the utmost importance , but your vital data shouldn’t be hidden and inaccessible when you need it for business purposes. In urgent situations, like in the event of a litigation or any other proceeding, your data should be made available in the shortest possible time.
- 4. Assign data governance
Who owns the data in your company? In most cases, people relate data ownership with IT departments and technical teams. Data management and its security is not the responsibility of your IT team.
If you, as the business owner, keep regarding data issues as ‘IT problems’, your data will not be dealt with properly. Data governance captures the idea of business ownership and assigns responsibility of data consistency and security to personnel specializing in the area.
Hire an expert in the field to ensure that your data is managed efficiently. Though giving up control of confidential data is not easy, as a business owner you must delegate this responsibility to people who are equipped to handle it.
- 5. Include logical and physical security
Include both logical (encryption, authorization, authentication, passwords) and physical (restricted access, security locks on cabinets and drives) security. Make sure that even the cleaning personnel have different storage spaces and restricted access to top level data sites. Physical security in data management has an equal share in keeping data secure, because it is more difficult to hack or steal data which cannot be accessed.
- 6. Secure data backups
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse's Chronology of Data Breaches is the first place you need to visit, to understand how important secure backups are. This phase is extremely fragile, because data backup exposes data to breaches for a lengthy period of time.
Many backup professionals are of the opinion that simply going through the process of backing up data is enough for its safety. However, backup data is just as vulnerable to data breaches. Therefore, it is important to secure backup data.
The first way to secure your backup data is to ensure a security policy for the backup process. Include the data backup system into your company’s disaster recovery plan, to save your data from being lost. Assign backup software rights only to those employees, who have high priority business needs. Make sure the system is not in the same physical space as your company.
To ensure maximum safety, find out which methods your storage vendors are using to store backups. Lawyers do ensure data safety in contracts, but sadly this isn’t enough. Despite incorporating fallback measures, they won’t be able to save your data from getting in the wrong hands. Ensure that your vendors are using safe and reasonable ways to store data, couriers and messages.
When starting a data management project, make sure that you determine data governance first. Choose the technology you will use in your projects, stabilize data for analytics and be in touch with your vendors about the security practices they use.
Securing your business’s data is not easy, and it takes expertise. However, you can implement very practical and simple solutions to ensure that when a hacker sniffs around your network or computers, he will move on to another victim—because your infrastructure is not worth the trouble of hacking into it.
One of the most important things you can do is to educate your employees in security best practices and ensure that they know how important their role is in securing company data.
(About the author: Audrey Throne is a professional blogger who writes about healthcare, technology and management. Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.)
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