Yes, Your Startup Has Vulnerable Data

When you’re new to running a business, you can often overlook things that at the time, seem less important. While you may be able to survive with fewer employees or less advanced software until you’ve generated some positive cash flow, other areas of your business should be invested in from the very beginning. This especially includes the protection of your company data.

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What is Company Data?

Company data is a collection of information necessary to operate your business. While you may think you don’t really have anything to protect, this data can be in the form of financial accounts, customer information, intellectual property, employee information, and legal documents. As most data is stored electronically these days, storing, tracking, and monitoring it diligently is imperative to your business.
There are a plethora of solutions for protecting your company data. Aside from putting various processes into place (such as secure passwords, encryption, and virus protection), companies like Trend Micro offer data loss prevention solutions for startups across all industries. Such solutions make it easier for you to track, monitor, and protect some of your most valuable assets. Before delving further into ways to protect your data, let’s first review why protection is necessary and what types of information you should be safeguarding.

Why Must You Protect Your Data?

It may not seem like you need to protect your company’s spreadsheets, logo designs, or employee contracts – until something actually goes wrong. Imagine coming into work and finding out that your customer account information has been stolen, deleted, or lost? You’ve now left your customer’s information vulnerable to be used by thieves, hackers, and even the competition.
Whether you’re playing around with the idea of starting a business while you’re still employed or you’ve actually started the process of building your startup, remember that company data is important. Though modern technology is great in that it allows you to easily store, access, and work on sensitive materials relating to your company, it also leaves you at risk. Some of those risks include:

– Identity theft
– Loss of company financials
– Compromised consumer information
– Lost trade secrets
– Unauthorized access to company accounts

What Type of Data Should be Protected?

Though you may not have believed that safeguarding your company accounts, databases, and correspondence was significant when starting a business, on the contrary, it can cost you your reputation and your business.
If you’re not sure what type of company data you should be protecting, below is a list to get you started:

1.  Consumer Data – Do you collect information from your clients or customers? If you’ve heard anything about the major breaches from stores like Target, Home Depot, and Kmart, you know how detrimental this can be. Whether its email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, or banking information, you need to guard this closely. Should this data become compromised, your clients and/or customers could become victims of identity theft.
2.  Financial Data – Your company finances are extremely important. As most businesses don’t utilize physical checkbooks and logs, a lot of your financial information is stored online. From your checking and savings account information to your invoices and company budgets, you’ll want to make sure that you have properly stored and protected them to minimize the risk of this information being compromised.
3.  Legal Documents – Legally binding documents are typically very important to businesses. This could be a contract between you and a vendor, an employee, or a client.
4.  Intellectual Property – Do you have design ideas? Maybe you’ve come up with a few ideas for a company logo or name? Or maybe you’ve created blog posts or a marketing strategy? If you’ve saved this information on your computer or stored it online, this data can be compromised.

From your company financials down to your consumer information, everything must be efficiently stored and monitored to minimize the risk of a breach. Failure to put these protections in place now could lead to a wealth of information being compromised – all of which, could cost you the dream of growing your business.