WEB & TECH / MAR. 19, 2014
version 2, draft 2

Four Steps to Secure Client Data

When handling data for a client, security is a vital issue to take into consideration. Between accidents of nature, theft, and the inevitable hard drive crash, it is vital to take steps to protect the work you are handling on a day-to-day basis.

A secure environment walks a fine line between convenience and total security. Every layer of security to put into place adds an additional step you have to go through to retrieve the document. The right balance takes time to determine, and will inevitably vary based upon the data being guarded, and the amount of time you have to invest in such utilities.

Create an Encrypted Backup, and have that backup hosted off-site!

The first step to keeping client’s data safe is to make sure it is not lost in the event of hardware failure or theft. For those utilizing Office365, this is handled automatically through OneDrive for Business.

For the rest of the data, it is vital to use an encrypted backup company with rock-solid reputation, and a company history extending far enough back to quell any fears of the firm suddenly folding.

The best solution I have found, for a small company, is IDrive. This company utilizes 256-Bit AES encryption, ensuring none of your data is compromised during transit or while being stored.

Password Protect Individual Files

If you need to pass a laptop around to different colleagues, or store the file on a common server, then putting a unique password on the file can make the difference between a secure, happy client, and one threatening a lawsuit.

In Microsoft Office 2013, a password is as simple as saving the file. All you have to do is access the main menu, and click the appropriate link.

Encrypt Your Hard Drive

If your computer is stolen, then the data on the main storage drive can be compromised unless you have taken measures to make accessing the data impossible. The most effective way to go about this is to encrypt the hard disk.

There are built-in tools in all three major platforms (Filevault, Bitlocker, Encryptfs,) enabling the end-user to protect the computer from all but the most dedicated of thieves.

However, there are instances where this would prove impractical. For instance, if the computer is shared then more than a single person would know the password. In these instances a program known as Truecrypt can create virtual encrypted “Drives” that will have unique passwords. These drives are single, large, files that can be backed up independently of anything else.

This allows clients work to be segregated from each other, a potential boon during an audit.

Install Tracking Software

No security system is foolproof. The best way for you to prevent data theft is to intercept the stolen technology before the thieves have the opportunity to decrypt the data.

The basic idea of this class of software is to ping a central server with the device’s location. From here, police can reclaim the property and return it to the proper owner.

There are two major players in this field; the first is Apple, with the “Find My iPhone” service. This service is built into the operating system, and relies on the miscreant logging onto the Internet.

The second is Lojack – a third party program operating through a similar mechanism with Windows laptops.

Conclusion

Data security is a multi-faceted issue, with solutions tackling each individual component of the problem. With the appropriate mindset, it is possible to create an effective security system guaranteed to lessen the impact of downtime and theft in the unfortunate event of technology loss.

It is vital to have a plan in place before an incident occurs, for nothing can replace data that has disappeared.

 Image Credit: Flickr user infocux Technologies

 

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