Information security: protect your small business and avoid risks


Date: 28 June 2023

Data security flags a potential security breach

Securing data as a small business is especially challenging - partly due to a lack of funding for information security. Hackers know this and are increasingly targeting start up businesses and similar organisations. Businesses must comply with data protection laws in a robust and timely fashion, something that not many small businesses are prepared for.

Although more comprehensive data protection rules were introduced in the EU a few years ago, companies still struggle to find a balance between rightfully collecting customers' data and providing security. In 2020, just 55% of EU organisations stated that they were compliant with GDPR, and many businesses were struggling with the guidelines. Although things have moved forward since then, prioritising data and customer data security is still essential as the number of cyber attacks has risen too.

Here's how to deal with cyber security risks and keep your small business safe.

The small business' responsibility for data security

Data security has always been a priority. However, with increasing numbers of data breaches and high-profile cases where social media platforms were caught obtaining users' information without their knowledge, it became clear that the information security landscape needed to change.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was introduced in 2018 and presented a strict set of rules that businesses needed to follow. It also introduced strict consequences for non-compliance. In simple terms, any business (however big or small) that collects, stores and uses customers' personal data must abide by the rules.

Personal data includes information such as name, address, address, health or financial information. Regardless of what information your small business needs to collect, it must control the following aspects:

  • Communication between business and customer must be clearly identified, stating why their information is processed and how it will be used;
  • Consent must follow legitimate interests and legal obligations, so it should be provided clearly;
  • Any data collected must be deleted when requested by the customer.

The potential consequences of breaching information security standards

Information security and cybersecurity go hand in hand. Although the repercussions of not abiding by GDPR could be a simple warning, your organisation will immediately lose the trust of your customers and your brand image will be affected. However, there are much more serious implications if you handle customer data unlawfully. The penalty can reach £17.5 million or 4% equivalent of the company's total annual turnover.

Besides the financial burden, the reputational damage can also affect your small business. For example, following Yahoo's data breach in 2013, customers lost trust in the company and moved their business to other organisations.

Securing your systems with cyber security products can go a long way to reducing the risks. You can find a range of products on sites like that will help you stay compliant, help keep cyber criminals out and help ensure you remain in control of your business, data and finances. You can also check out Norton security offers to stay help your business remain cyber secure.

Keep your small business compliant and minimise risks

To start, you should appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) to ensure your small business complies with data protection laws. Mapping your current IT system can also help you check that your systems, devices and applications are not contributing to unintentional data weaknesses.

The next step includes reviewing your data processing activities. This should be reviewed on a regular basis since small business systems and processes can change in line with new objectives. If you are transferring data internationally, additional safeguards are required. Make sure you establish robust contractual clauses and rules on mitigation measures that must be put in place.

The importance of employee training

Protecting employees and their data is crucial. Training employees on handling customer data and offering support in case of emergency is essential for the whole company. As a small business, it should be relatively straightforward to bring everyone up to speed. Training staff helps cement knowledge and develop skills. Employees need to understand the importance of data security and GDPR, and how they can help minimise the risks.

Other data security tips

Protecting customers' data is linked closely with providing wider security for the firm. Data must be secured with encryption for transmission and storage purposes. Implementing tools like DLP (Data Loss Prevention) helps monitor and protect data within your small business.

Another tip is to restrict access to documents and files. Although this might make it look like you don't trust your team, this action is essential for protecting vital information. Access to key data should only be given to people directly involved in projects that need the information to do their job.

Finally, you need to identify the areas of potential security risk, be it on-site, remote or mobile. Audit when and how data is collected, stored and accessed to identify potential weaknesses in your systems and processes.

Final thoughts

Of course, these tips are only a starting point. Your small business might have specific needs for which you should take expert guidance. Regardless, providing you prioritise information security, your company can work towards information security compliance.

In times when technology continues to develop rapidly, companies need to keep up with new measures to protect their customers and data. This is why GDPR is an essential part of any small business's internal activity and needs to be developed to minimise potential legal warnings and the decline of your brand.

Copyright 2023. This article was made possible by supporter ARTSEO.

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