5 Tips for Secure Data Storage in 2021

Posted on November 13, 2020 Cloud

Cybersecurity is on the minds of business leaders. Many cyberattacks focus on small businesses, and the average small business pays $200,000 to recover from a breach. Breaches can cost larger businesses much more.

No matter the size of your business, a data breach is a serious matter. It’s little wonder so many people are thinking about ways they can improve security.

Secure data storage refers to data that is stored in computer or server hard disks, external hard drives, USB drives, cloud, network-based storage area network (SAN), or network-attached storage (NAS).

Threats to Data Security

Before we consider how to create secure data storage we need to understand the possible threats.

External threats include nation-states, terrorists, hackers, cybercriminals, and industrial espionage.

Internal threats can include malicious insiders, ill-trained staff, disgruntled employees or ex-employees.

There are also other threats such as fire, flooding, and power outages that can have a detrimental impact on organizations without effective secure data storage.

If you’re wondering how you can make data storage more secure in the coming year, look no further. These five tips will help you lock your data up tight.

1. Encrypt Your Data

One of the first tips for how to have secure data storage is that it should always be about encryption. Encrypting data can make it unreadable, even if hackers can get their hands on it.

How does that work? Encryption encodes your data in a way that has to then be deciphered. To be able to read it, you’ll need the key.

There are two keys for decrypting data. If the user can’t supply both, then the data can’t be decrypted. That renders it unreadable.

There are several different types of encryption out there. Some are harder to crack than others, which increases the security level.

Secure Data Storage and Password-Protected Files

A simple way to “encrypt” a file is to simply create a password-protected .zip archive. Without the password, the file can’t be opened.

You can use several different tools to create this sort of file. Another option is to create a password-protected virtual disk. The password functions as the “key” to decrypting the data.

Keep in mind that passwords can be guessed or cracked. True encryption protocols go beyond this, requiring a key to decipher the data itself.

What Should You Encrypt?

A good answer to this question is “everything.” For secure data storage, you’ll want to include:

  • Any hard drives, including those that are no longer in use
  • External drives, such as USB devices and SIM cards being used to store data
  • Cloud storage
  • Backup files

Basically, if it has data stored on it, that data should be encrypted. You may even want to consider protocols that encrypt data as it flows across networks.

2. Check Your Cloud for Security Features

Many business leaders ask, “Should I store data on a cloud?” There are plenty of concerns about just how secure the cloud is. The public cloud is a particular concern for most people.

Both public and private cloud providers usually take some security measures. Private cloud services can be customized to provide improved data security.

For secure data storage, your cloud should include several features. You’ll want to look for:

  • Encryption protocols
  • Backup policies
  • Firewalls

Other security features should also be available. With the private cloud, you can customize your security. Always look at what a cloud provider is offering, and then ask if there are ways to improve security.

3. Get Serious about Account Authentication

Who has access to your stored data? That’s one of the biggest questions to ask when it comes to keeping data safe in your business.

Too often, businesses allow almost everyone to access even the most sensitive of data. A better policy is to manage account access with stricter rules. Administrators should have more access to data than regular accounts.

Not everyone needs access to all data either.

You should also encourage better authentication protocols, such as passwords and multifactor authentication. Many organizations are upgrading to passphrases instead of passwords. Passphrases are typically harder to guess, which makes them more secure.

You should also encourage your team members to update their passphrases often. Regular updates mean that even if hackers can get login information, it will be outdated.

Multifactor authentication adds another layer of security, beyond the passphrase. This makes it more difficult to access someone’s account without more knowledge. Some devices allow for bio-identification, such as facial recognition.

These extra factors can lock out hackers, even if they do get someone’s login credentials. In turn, the data stored in your system or on an individual device may be more secure.

Encourage Employees to Safeguard Data

You can add extra security features to employees’ accounts, but there are other precautions. This includes locking their devices when not in use. They should also sign out of their accounts.

Training and education are key here. Employees should learn about why data security is important, and what the consequences of a data breach are. Then, help them understand the steps they can take to prevent a breach.

4. Develop Better BYOD Policies for Secure Data Storage

Bring your own device” policies have become more popular in recent years. In the past six months, more people have accessed company servers and software via their own devices. Remote workers in particular may be using their own laptop or smartphone to access an account or a server.

The problem with this is that not everyone’s device will be secure. Employees may have unwittingly downloaded ransomware, malware, or keyloggers.

Even seemingly harmless devices like a USB key can harbor malicious code and programming. When someone plugs that device into their laptop, it can compromise data security.

Employees may also have let updates and security on their own devices lapse. That can also compromise data security.

Better BYOD policies are in order. You may want to issue reminders to update software and device operating systems. You can also specify minimum security requirements for devices in use.

You may even want to offer business-sponsored security software or employer-supplied devices. Make it clear these devices are for work only. Employees shouldn’t be plugging USB devices into any company devices.

Keep data destruction in mind here as well. As old devices are decommissioned, you’ll need to take extra steps to ensure data can’t be recovered from them. This is particularly important for removable storage, like USB keys and more.

For mobile devices, you may also want to consider location tracking and device-wiping.

5. Backups and Updates Are Key for Secure Data Storage

Finally, make sure you’re looking to both backups and updates to improve you data storage security.

Backing up your data is key to both business continuity and security. If someone does get into the system and tampers with files, you can to be sure you can restore that data. You can also use backups to verify data and identify anything that’s been altered.

Backups can also help you restore lost and inaccessible files, as well as files that may be held hostage.

Backups have to be managed in the right way. You’ll want to follow the 3-2-1 rule, which includes keeping three copies of data. You’ll need to keep the copies in two different types of data storage, and in at least one separate location.

This improves business continuity if something should happen, such as a fire or a natural disaster. It also protects you against tampering.

Make sure you back up on a regular basis. You should overwrite old backups and deleted files. This can make their data in accessible.

Keeping Your Storage Up to Date

You’ve likely heard the advice about keeping your computer up to date. As mentioned, updates are important in keeping devices safe.

If you’re backing up to an internal server or storing data on a cloud server, you’ll also want to ensure you have the latest updates. Updates to the software on servers help keep the data stored there safer.

It also protects the server itself from attacks. You may want to enable certain kinds of protection, such as encryption, firewalls, and even blocking certain traffic.

Keeping all the software up to date helps you keep people who shouldn’t have access to your data out. A server running an outdated framework or using older protocols may be vulnerable to attack. Updating can patch these vulnerabilities, just the same as updating your computer can protect it.

For cloud servers, your provider should be able to offer automatic updates. That way, you don’t need to remember to install them manually yourself. Instead, you’ll always have the latest and most up-to-date version of everything you need to run.

Get Peace of Mind with Better Security

Secure data storage must be a consideration in any cybersecurity strategy. As data breaches become more common and more costly, you’ll want to do whatever you can to make sure your data is stored in the most secure way.

That means you need to think of all the different ways your data is stored. Whether it’s on the cloud, a mobile device, or a decommissioned hard drive, you need to take steps to safeguard this data.

The right policies and protocols will go a long way to better protecting your data. The right technology is an even bigger step in the right direction.

Are you looking for a safer, more secure cloud service for your backups and data storage? Look no further. Private cloud services can help you get the safety and security you need for your business in 2021.

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