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Five Ways Businesses Can Protect Their Online Data

28/05/2016

In the 21st century, data breach incidents are an unfortunate reality that businesses must face. Protection of online data is a serious consideration for businesses of all sizes, as a data breach can be costly – both financially and also in terms of reputation.

So how can your business protect its online data?

1. Understand the data your business holds.

It's important that a business understands and monitors the personal information it holds, whether it's private business information or the personal details of clients. The Privacy Act stipulates that businesses are responsible for the security of any records containing personal information that is within their possession and control. By having a comprehensive understanding of the data within its possession, a business is able to better protect it and identify/manage any data breach risks.

2. Understand the contract with your service provider.

Since most businesses have their online data managed by a service provider, it's imperative that the business understands the provider's contract. The contract should ideally have a clause that ensures a business is notified should any data breach occur – no matter how minor it is.

3. Ensure data is encrypted.

While it isn't possible to create a completely impenetrable security system, businesses do need to take reasonable measures in order to ensure their online data is safe. Strong reactive security measures, such as data encryption, are a good way to protect data. Encrypted data isn't intelligible to the average person, and therefore even if a data breach occurs it is unlikely any information will be extracted.

4. Improve your breach detection.

If a data breach occurs, the most important thing is to ensure your business is immediately aware. If breaches are detected early, then remedial steps can be put in place in a timely manner to minimise harm. Breach detection measures such as up-to-date security tools, security testing and staff training are the best ways to ensure any breaches are detected quickly.

5. Have a response plan.

How will your business react to a serious data breach? If you don't have a plan, it's time to put one in place. An effective data breach plan should include a strategy for identifying and fixing the breach, and it should also help you to determine whether the breach is serious enough to warrant your business giving notice of the incident.

Protecting online data is a very important consideration for all Australian businesses. If you are unsure whether your data is protected – or don't know how your business would respond in the event of a data breach – it's time to plan and prepare!

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