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5 Tips For Small Business Data Security Improvements

data security tips for small business

Most small businesses today handle sensitive data – and often they are not aware of the need or methods to protect it. Sensitive data can include a client’s private contact information. email correspondence, payment information, financial records or attachments sent to you via email or stored on your systems. personal identification used to approve or secure services or loans, health related information, legal case file information and more.

Business IT systems are constantly evolving, and the bad guys out there are evolving too. Threat actors methods for breaching and illegally obtaining your data continue to become more effective.

All businesses, big and small, need better methods to protect sensitive data. Some steps you can take are outlined below. 

How to Create a Data Security Policy For A Small Business

To create an appropriate and effective data security policy, you can:

  1. Identify and list all your IT assets.
  2. Assess vulnerabilities in those assets.
  3. Define the sensitive data you interact with.
  4. Identity where that data might be transmitted or stored.
  5. Assess vulnerabilities in data storage and handling and put security controls in place to mitigate risk.
  6. Create and clearly communicate a data management policy for your team. Outline the security controls in place, as well as the need for the human layer of security to remain diligent. 

  7. Ensure all staff are trained on and understand what is required of them in protecting your IT assets, clients, and people.

5 Ways To Protect Data

There are multiple layers to data security and your approach should match your IT setup, data sensitivity, industry and liability. Some broadly adopted improvements are listed below. 

Improve Device Security

Devices today are more mobile than ever. They hop from home, to office, to the local coffee shop, the airport, different countries – connecting to insecure and risky networks along the way. Device security is a priority and a security control that greatly contributes to your overall data security.

At a minimum, every small business should have:

  • Antivirus on every device
  • Daily patching of all software and the operating system in place.
  • EDR – Endpoint Detect and Repair tools in place.
  • 2 Factor Authentication on all user and email accounts enabled. 

Learn more about device or endpoint security management here. 

Restrict Access to Data

Many recent data breaches have resulted from not restricting employees’ access to data. You can accomplish this in a basic way with restricting sharing sensitive drives and folders. A more comprehensive method would be via Identity Management and Conditional Access Policies.  Here at TUCU Managed IT Services in Toronto, we work with our clients to help them adopt best practices, including Identity management solutions, and data security controls that make sense for their business. We’d be happy to help you too. Contact us to book a free consult call. 

Manage Data Access During Staff Onboards and Offboards

When you recycle computers amongst team members who are leaving and joining the company, are you doing so securely? This would include wiping all user accounts and access to company files and folders from the device, before handing it over to a new staff member to use.  Learn more about secure staff offboarding here. 

Educate Staff on Healthy Password Habits

Even in this day and age of daily account breach headlines, people still have bad password habits. Chances are very good that someone on your team has poor password practices such as weak passwords, dark web leaked passwords, reusing the same password across multiple accounts.

Educating your team on password habits will protect your organization.  Use our guide to help your team understand password realities and how to protect all their accounts – personal and work related.  Get our updated Password Security Guide For Small Business.

Train Employees To Spot Phishing Scams

All internet users need to be aware of potential phishing scams that target sensitive data. Phishing scams can take the form of emails or phone calls in which bad actors pose as clients to get sensitive information. If your approach to verifying clients making odd requests is not well-defined, then protocols for verifying clients should be standardized and included in your company policy.

IT Security Network planning on whiteboard

Consider working with an IT Consulting Company when creating your small business data security solutions.

A security audit is a good way to assess your vulnerabilities. Many companies find they need to add layers of security that are not already in place. This can feel like a sales pitch, however any responsible and trusted managed services provider will walk you through best practices and where you align or diverge from them.

From there, they would help you identify which are the most pressing areas for your organization to tackle right away, and which are less of a requirement for you.

The truth is that most small businesses are behind in cybersecurity, and wait too long before hiring an outsourced IT services company.  This lack of IT oversight can increase risk of breach or ransomware, and can also cause a pile up of upgrades to be needed all at once, resulting in a jarring sticker shock effect.

Here at TUCU, we work with small business in Toronto, Pickering, Ajax, Oshawa, Markham and across Ontario to help them close security gaps and provide them with an IT department via our outsourced IT services, so that they can focus on business and growth.  We can help you too. Reach out to book a free consult call today. 


Cyber Security Consulting in Toronto ON: Do you need help assessing your IT security systems in the greater Toronto area? TUCU can help. Established in 2003, we offer cybersecurity solutions as well as, IT compliance solutions and IT management and support services.  Please call us today for a free consultation to discuss your needs and how we can help.

Ready to make some changes?  Let’s talk.


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