Most computers make it especially easy for users to backup their data. Usually all that’s required is an external drive, which is relatively inexpensive. Both PC’s and Macintosh computers come equipped with built in backup software that is easy to navigate, but you may also elect to purchase backup software that is capable of more advanced features.
Data backup is also an important consideration due to the potential for a computer’s hard disk to crash or become damaged, either through hardware issues, a power surge, or some other disastrous consequences. Data backup enables you to immediately recover any lost data up to the point of the last backup (many backup programs run silently in the background of other programs, backing up changes to files that were only just made a short while ago, so that possibly nothing is lost).
If a hard drive is damaged and you do not have backup software already in place, you may be tempted to run a data recovery program. This has the potential for overwriting and erasing some of your original files. A data recovery specialist or company is better equipped and experienced in recovering files intact and possibly even repairing the hard drive, or porting all your files onto a new drive.
Data recovery costs can be pretty high, so it is in your best interests to make sure your data is backed up regularly. And it goes without saying that your backup disk, usually an external disk of some type, should be well protected so that it doesn’t get lost or stolen.
Additional types of protection for both disks that are recommended are antivirus software to protect your disks from harmful viruses, malware or spyware, and firewall protection, which is designed to act as a shield against those who might try to gain access to your data without proper permissions. You might also consider data encryption, which encodes your data so that it cannot be read or viewed by anyone who does not have the correct password. There are different levels of data encryption software available, depending upon how sensitive your data is. If your business does contain any type of sensitive or confidential data, you’ll want to make sure you have some kind of sufficient data protection to better ensure that the data does not fall into hands outside the company.
Information changes hands millions of times daily, through the use of file transfers, downloads, emails, and on portable media such as CDs, DVDs, and USB drives. Data can also be transferred unknowingly to others by the sale of used computer hard drives or external drives in which data was not properly erased. And sometimes, laptops and external media can be lost or stolen. Often, this does not result in anything serious, but sometimes multitudes of confidential information can be lost, putting many at risk for identity theft or other crimes.
Data protection is needed not only to protect the data on your own systems from harmful cyber attacks or viruses, but also to ensure that if it does find its way into the wrong hands, it remains secure and unable to be viewed.
As mentioned above, anti virus software, firewalls, and data encryption are the main types of data protection available. Depending upon how sensitive your data is, you may want to invest in additional security software. Most data can be easily protected against many who might obtain it by accident or through theft, but against someone with more experience in computer software, especially hackers and identity thieves, your data may not be safe with just basic protection.
As a business owner or manager, you need to be aware that you are responsible for the data on your computer systems, and a loss or breach of that data can result is serious fines. This usually pertains to breaches in which the personal data of customers and clients is compromised.
If your company utilizes this type of data in any capacity, you must ensure that it is protected in accordance with federal and/or state guidelines. A full listing of United States federal and state laws that have provisions for data privacy can be found at Information Shield, along with links to information about international data protection laws as well. The website also contains a useful tool for determining the cost of a privacy breach.
In addition to the laws regarding a breach of data, the provisions also cover standards in which the data is allowed to be used. Regulations may vary slight from state to state, but typically include statements that personal information collected on consumers, customers and clients must be kept confidential and processed lawfully. Certain types of data may be shared with other parties only if given permission by the individual, and a purpose for use of the information must also be stated. Additionally, as data is collected, the individuals must also be aware that their information is being stored and processed, and by what entity and for what purpose.
These are just some of the principles outlined by federal data privacy laws. Some exemptions to the rules apply if, for example, you are not for profit organization, or the data is being collected solely for the purposes of advertising in relation to your own business. It is recommended that you become aware of the specifics of the laws as they apply to your business, in your state.
If your organization is quite large, you might want to employ a specific individual to act as a data controller – he who is in charge of data protection within the company, ensuring that there are no leaks or losses of data.
Because mobile devices are also capable of carrying large amounts of data and are often used for business purposes to collect and store data, you’ll also want to ensure that they are protected as well in case they get lost or stolen. Each device will be different, but most contain built-in protection features such as passwords, and more advanced apps can be purchased that will encrypt the data or add extra security features.
By ensuring that data at your company is backed up consistently and protected from theft or loss, you can save your business from potential headaches in the future.
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