Whenever you start or take over a business, it comes with a certain measure of data that you’re going to have to work with throughout your time there. This data might come in the form of financial numbers, customer information, metadata, or any number of different items. It just depends on the organization.
Whatever the case, handling and working with data properly is integral to ensuring broad success at your company. With businesses across the globe falling victim to cyber-attacks (especially small businesses, 43% of which were targeted in the last year alone), it’s more crucial than ever to have a long-lasting, impactful data protection plan for your business. Here are five data precautions that can help.
Cybersecurity should be among your topmost concerns, regardless of your industry and business level. Just a few years ago, there were more than over 80,000 cyber attacks every day, targeting industries far and wide. Retail and consumer breaches—like the Target breach in 2017 and the Experian data breach—negatively affect everyone from consumers to the corporate entity itself.
Last year, a ransomware attack shut down the Colonial Pipeline. Schools and financial institutions are constantly being targeted by attackers. So, the need to safeguard and secure data at your organization is quite critical indeed. Bolstering your company’s cybersecurity methods is the key to preventing and attenuating any potential attacks. Reinforcing cybersecurity through guidelines, best practices, firewalls, encryption, two-factor authentication, and other cybersecurity methods can go a long way to protecting your valuable data.
Data integrity is one of the most essential precautions to take in any organization. In short, you can think of data integrity as a framework. Inside that framework are various moving parts that need to be reliable, consistent, and accurate. This is where a data integrity plan comes into play.
When you are working with data at your organization, it’s essential to make sure it is usable, consistent, reliable, properly stored, timely, and accurate. Data quality, data accuracy, and data security all work in tandem to create an overarching sense of data integrity. Think of them as subsets of the umbrella term “data integrity.” Reinforcing data Integrity can be a lengthy process, but it starts with duplicates, doing frequent testing, keeping audits, and using cybersecurity measures like encryption to maintain the quality of the data while it’s being stored.
Data integrity is critical alongside a good data governance strategy. It’s distinct from data integrity in that it’s more about how your company manages data instead of referring to its quality. Think about how your organization accesses data. How does it use the data and share it inside of the organization? You probably have some kind of framework and regulations for these things.
If you don’t, you need to. Why? Because you want to ensure accuracy, consistency, and high quality across all the data within your organization. Your data also needs to be used in a way that is in line with your company’s policies, complying with any guidelines set forth by the organization.
It’s challenging and frustrating sometimes to implement properly, but in the end, a good data governance strategy can help you handle large quantities of sensitive data without too much trouble. Developing a data governance strategy to work in conjunction with your data integrity solutions is a surefire way to keep your data safe at all times.
Keeping your metadata safe is just as crucial as having a strong data governance plan. Metadata describes and defines other types of data. Parameters such as date created, who created it, when it was last accessed, time stamps, and more. Failing to protect metadata can lead to some adverse effects—especially when it comes to surveillance.
Encryption is a good way to protect metadata, along with taking advantage of other cybersecurity measures. Per a 2020 MIT report, metadata can contain some incredibly sensitive information about your data itself. Attackers can use that information to access and alter your metadata, which can result in active attacks. Taking some of the same precautions you would to govern and maintain the integrity of your data is critical when it comes to metadata as well.
When it comes to handling data, compliance is a pretty big deal. There are a few “best practices” and procedures to help companies be as compliant as possible. Organizations will typically have their own set of standards to use, in addition to data handling standards like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
Data is a sensitive asset, so ensuring its quality and security is essential for it to be useful or prevent it from being compromised. Some of the more common regulations—like the payment card industry (PCI) standards and HIPAA—are all part of the compliance standards required for most businesses. Some compliance standards are mandated by the government (GDPR and HIPAA are prime examples) while others are just a good idea to implement (PCI DSS).
Ultimately, ensuring proper compliance will lead to broadly improving data integrity and data governance at your business while simultaneously preserving your data so it remains viable.