How to Keep Data Safe

by Bobby Stocks

In a world where computers are used for virtually all financial and personal transactions, the need to safeguard data is more important than ever. In the Internet age, millions of people are accessing electronic information databases every second. Failure to properly protect sensitive data could open the door to major threats ranging from identity theft to accessing classified information that could potentially harm national security. Security is not the only threat facing data managers. There is also the growing concern for defense against malicious viral attacks and catastrophic data corruption that could easily put a business in a legal bind. While most threats aren't on the level of starting World War III, businesses and individual lives can be devastated by the lack of protection concerning sensitive data. Proper data security techniques can minimize the risk of losing important and private information and should be a top priority.

Steps to Better Data Security

1

Initiate password protection. The simplest and most often abused form of data security is password protection. Passwords should only be given to someone who has a legitimate need for accessing the data. The password should also be changed regularly to alleviate the possibility of someone having permanent access to data when no longer required. Passwords should only be regarded as an initial stage of security. They are easily compromised by users who share them with others or leave the password information in conspicuous places. Always use passwords, but don't solely rely on them.

2

Install antivirus software. Viral attacks have long been a problem for information systems. A virus is any program that has been designed to disrupt or corrupt normal data operations. Virus protection is a must for proper data security. New viruses are created every day, which is why it is extremely important to always keep antivirus software up-to-date. The major antivirus software providers provide regular updates to combat new viruses as they surface.

3

Perform regular data backups. At a minimum, data backups should be performed on a daily basis. Backups may be required more frequently for operations concerning financial transactions or time-sensitive information. Total information loss would be catastrophic to most businesses. The best way to accomplish regular backups is to use a multiserver system for networks. This way, the additional server can be set up to automatically copy all information from the main server at given intervals. The result is having a "mirrored" system that can be retrieved in cases of emergency.

4

Set up user accounts. When more than one person has access to the same information database, it is wise to create individual user accounts allowing only necessary privileges. Seldom will everyone require access to all data available on a system. By setting up individual accounts, a system administrator can monitor and control who has access to particular types of data or allow access only as needed.

5

Inspect email. Billions of email messages are transmitted around the world every day. More than we want may be in the form of maddening spam, but the majority is harmless in regards to data threat. However, there are some precautions that should be observed to dodge the small percentage of destructive messages that may appear. Email attachments should never be opened unless they are from trusted sources. File attachments are known to harbor viruses or "Trojans," which are programs designed to gather information from the host computer and transmit it to the sender's computer. "Phishing" is also an email technique used by scammers to gain access to private data by impersonating a legitimate business in which the user may have an account. The rule of thumb is to always be suspicious and cautious of any email from personally unknown sources.

Warnings

  • close Change passwords often.
  • close Only open email attachments from trusted sources.

Items you will need

References

About the Author

A 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Bobby Stocks began writing freelance travel articles in 2005. His articles have appeared in Absolute Florida magazine and online at lifeinitaly.com and FamilyLobby.com. Stocks holds a Bachelor of Science in biblical studies from Liberty University.