By Mark Nardone
Blue Cow Software

Do you remember how you felt the last time your mobile phone lost its signal as you passed through a “dead zone” in cell coverage? It was a lonely, lost sensation. Now transfer that to the specter of losing the “signal” to all of your company’s data. Not a pretty thought.

Your company runs on data. Customer information, invoicing, hedging, financial information, payroll, inventory, contracts – the list is endless. So, have you considered what would happen to your business if that data is lost or compromised?

Which is why it is mission critical to implement a two-part plan that protects your system from outside intrusion by cyber criminals or hackers; while also providing a reliable method for backup and restoration of any data lost to unforeseen circumstances like fire, flood or natural disaster. Are you willing to bet it won’t happen to you? The stakes are very high: 90% of businesses that lose their data are out of business within two years.

Here are nine steps you can take to help secure your data and ensure a quick recovery should a disaster occur.

  1. Back up early and often – The single most important step in protecting your data from loss is to back it up regularly. How often you back up depends on how much data can you afford to lose if your system crashes completely. A week’s work? A day’s work? An hour’s work? The rule of thumb is to back up as much data as you can afford, as frequently as you can afford.
  2. Back up digitally – Older backup systems rely on tape backup, which can present its own problems. First of all, 80% of tape backups fail. Even if your tape backup does work, it takes much longer to restore data from a tape than to download from a digital file. The best way is to use an automatic backup system that is cloud-based. This is not only easier to access when needed but is more secure than hardware-based backup systems.
  3. Install a firewall – This should be a no brainer, but we still find many customers in the fuel oil and propane industry who do not take this basic precaution. A robust firewall can help guard against harmful incoming inquiries, such as viruses or denial of service attacks.
  4. Keep personal information separate – Even if you own the business, don’t keep your personal data and financial information on the company server. It is just more exposure that you do not need, both for your personal information and your company’s data.
  5. Update software regularly – Every software maker should provide you with regular updates that include security patches and upgrades. If the software you are using is no longer updated, it is important to replace it with a new version. Also remove old and unused software from your system.
  6. Secure laptops and mobile devices – If you are only securing your server against hackers or data loss, you are missing important components of your overall network. With mobile communication such an important part of the propane and fuel oil business, you also need to secure the laptops, smart phones, and tablets used by your drivers and field service team members. Make sure your devices have the latest encryption software installed, are password protected, and (in case they are lost or stolen) have remote wiping enabled.
  7. Secure wireless transmissions– Send or store data only on wireless networks that use encryption, preferably Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), which is stronger than Wired Equivalent Protocol (WEP).
  8. Wipe old hard drives before disposal – If you are getting rid of old computer hardware, be sure to electronically “wipe” the hard drive before trashing it.
  9. Make security a priority – Create a culture of security within your business. Train all employees in security best practices to minimize human error. Make sure everybody knows why protecting data and information is important. Run regular security audits and drills to assess performance. It only takes an innocent slip of the tongue to open the door to cyber criminals who are eager to mine the gold to be found within your data.

Get more information about data security and backup by clicking here or calling us at (888) 499-2583.