Maintaining a comprehensive security strategy to keep your customers’ data safe should be your number one priority as a business owner. However, keeping up with the constantly evolving security landscape can be challenging.
The IRS has implemented what it calls the “Security Six” protocol designed for tax professionals. However, many different types of businesses can benefit from following this protocol. Here are the six pieces of the IRS’s security protocol to implement in your business.
Install Antivirus Software
Antivirus and anti-malware software will help detect and remove any suspicious software on your system. Set your antivirus software to scan your entire system periodically through automatic scans; they should also run manual scans on any new software that comes into their systems, such as a web attachment or a downloaded file.
Set Up Firewalls
Firewalls limit the sources from where you can download files or documents onto your computer. A common proactive for cybercriminals is to embed malware in a link so you could download it inadvertently while browsing the internet; firewalls prevent this situation from happening in the first place.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication adds an extra security layer after you enter a password. This authentication can come in the form of an email or SMS being sent to your phone with a limited-time authentication code to enter. A thief might steal your password, but to access your systems, they would need your phone.
Backup Your Software and Services
In case anything goes wrong, you should back up your critical data and documents to external storage, whether it be another hardware solution like an external hard drive or a secure cloud-based solution.
Encrypt Your Storage Drives
If you encrypt your storage drives, then even if a cybercriminal gets your data, they won’t be able to read it without the necessary decryption keys. You can use drive encryption to also encrypt removable data, like a USB thumb drive.
Use a Virtual Private Network
A Virtual Private Network (or VPN) securely shares information as if connecting directly to a private network. VPNs encrypt the files in your data connection to keep your data secure, even on notoriously dangerous public WiFi hotspots.
As data security practices evolve, the tactics cybercriminals use will evolve right alongside those practices. Continually updating your security protocols is the best way to keep the bad guys out and protect your customers’ data.