Safeguard Your Business’s Data and Credit— We’re keeping with the theme of yesterday’s article and discussing how to ensure your business’s data and credit are safe. We’re not talking simply about cloud storage for the everyday document. We’re taking it to the next level and talking about a total backup of your entire business history. You need to safeguard your business’s data and credit just as you would protect your family.
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen many devastating hurricanes and earthquakes that have wiped out entire islands. What if your business was destroyed in one of these events? Would you have been protected? And not just protected, would you have had an entire history of your business? Do you have a proper system to safeguard your business’s data and credit? If your business is ever destroyed, you will need to have many documents to make insurance claims and rebuild. Without them, you could be in an even worse situation. You could even lose everything forever.
Safeguard your Business’s Data and Credit –Learn from the Mistakes of Equifax.
A few weeks ago, Equifax, one of the major three credit reporting agencies, was hacked. The hack occurred from mid-May through July. During this time, 143 million American consumers’ sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach. What kind of information? Everything. Hackers gained access to Social Security numbers, names, addresses, birth dates, and even driver’s license numbers.
The consequences of this are huge! If your identity is stolen, it can take years to regain it. Small business owners should especially beware of this. If your identity is stolen, you could be compromised on many fronts — banking, legal, etc. It would also mean big problems for your business. Want to take out a small business loan to expand your booming business? Think again. Identity theft can lower your credit score and raise red flags for the bank. With the long process it takes to regain your identity, it could cost your business thousands of dollars annually.
Safeguard your Business’s Data and Credit – How are you Currently Protecting it?
Hopefully, this isn’t the first time someone has brought up the need to safeguard your business’s data and credit. You most likely use one of the following systems to store data:
- Filing cabinet
- External hard drive
- Cloud-based solution
- Tape vaulting service.
If hackers were able to breach Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the United States for two months without notice, you’re probably wondering if any data storage option is good enough. That’s why we’ve broken down the pros and cons of these options to safeguard your business’s data and credit to help you make the right choice.
Safeguard your Business’s Data and Credit – Are Traditional Filing Cabinets too Old School?
It can seem like the most sensible option to store your important documents in a locked filing cabinet. For one, it’s convenient. If you’ve started a business, you know first-hand that it required a lot of paperwork. You must keep records of everything. Additionally, you often must provide original signed documents for certain things, mainly banking tasks and legal processes. If you ever need to prove something in a court, you need immediate access to the appropriate paperwork. You may think that it’s safer than an online storage system because it would be hard, and somewhat unlikely, for someone to dig through your files, find your tax returns from three years ago, and steal sensitive business information. This is true, you’re less likely to get hacked if everything is in hard-copies in a locked drawer.
However, if you merely have your files in a locked filing cabinet, you’re taking a huge risk with your business’s data and credit. Look at the natural disaster that occurred over the last few weeks. The hurricanes and earthquakes destroyed thousands of peoples’ livelihoods — homes, businesses, everything. If you were in one of these disasters and only had a filing cabinet with your important business data and it was destroyed, you would have serious problems. Your business would be gone. Think you can just rebuild? Without any key data pieces, you would have a steep uphill battle to rebuild your business.
If that doesn’t scare you, remember that if you make an insurance claim without proper documentation of the value of your business and it’s good, insurance companies are trying to only pay you 60% on the insured dollar.
Safeguard your Business’s Data and Credit – Can an External Hard Drive Solve your Problems?
If you aren’t already, you should be saving an original copy and a digital copy of all important documents. Maybe you have the originals in a safety deposit box? Maybe you scan the files and store them on an external hard drive?
External hard drives can be a great solution to store your data. It’s not connected to the internet, which gives you peace of mind knowing the device cannot be breached by an online hacker. Using a physical storage device gives you the flexibility to store it anywhere. Think about it. You don’t keep your passport and social security card in your house. You keep them locked in a safe or stored in a safety deposit box. Shouldn’t you do the same for your business’s data? The answer is yes. Most business owners don’t realize that if your business’s data is not stored in a secure facility off-site, it’s not safe.
However, this is not a perfect solution. These devices can be easily lost, so you need to ensure it’s safe. It is also not unheard of for external hard drives and USB’s to become damaged, whether being accidental, like spilling water on it, or bad luck because it just broke.
If the device is off-site, you’re not updating it regularly. It can turn into an ‘oh, I should go get the external hard drive out of the safe, but I don’t have the time, maybe next week’. When disasters, like a fires or hurricanes, happen the last thing you want to do is rely on a non-updated storage device to safeguard your business’s data and credit. Lastly, in the face of natural disasters, there is a big possibility that you could simply forget your device in the hustle and bustle trying to evacuate.
Safeguard your Business’s Data and Credit –Are Cloud-Based Solutions the Best Way to Go?
One of the most common methods of storing data is an online cloud-based solution, like Google Drive or Dropbox. The nice thing about these platforms is that they can be synced to automatically backup your computer at the end of the day. Additionally, the convenience of this is that you can log into any computer around the world and access all your documents. It’s also convenient to have an online cloud-based solution if you have several employees. Instead of having to take turns syncing on one device or printing and filling, everyone can save time and sync on their own. Best of all, many of these cloud-based solutions have free software, which makes it seem like a great cost-saving business decision.
However, the one thing you don’t want to do is cut corners on is storing your business’s historical data and credit. You may think that the cloud-based solution will do the trick and make your life simple. It’s a fair assumption seeing as everything is done online nowadays. However, hackers are trying to break into your data each and every day. If hackers were able to breach companies like Target and Equifax and steal millions of people’s credit card information, they can easily hack into your Google Drive. Just like solely using a filing cabinet is a bad idea, so is having a cloud-based solution as your only backup of data. It’s just not as secure as we’ve grown accustomed to believing.
Safeguard your Business’s Data and Credit – Off-site Vault Tapes, the Way of the Future?
In today’s modern world there are several platforms to help you safeguard your business’s data and credit. However, are they enough? Is storing all your personal and business history online truly safe? In order to truly safeguard your business’s data and credit, you need to store it off-site.
Companies, like ArchiveAmerica, have noticed the very real threat associated with how we store data. To solve it, they’ve developed vault tape solutions to safeguard your business’s data and credit. In a nutshell, data is copied and stored on magnetic tapes which are then sent off-site for storage. Tapes have been used since the conception of computers and have proven to be a safe and reliable storage solution. Modern tape technologies can store over 1TB.
Tape vaulting companies have a few options to help you store data. Seeing as businesses have a lot of files to store, some companies will come to your location and migrate all your existing data onto a magnetic tape. This saves you a lot of man-hours and frustration. Your provider also will often provide you with a workflow, audit trail, and online tracking. Once the migration is complete, the tapes are sent to the company’s secure location and kept for you in the event that you need them.
There are two different ways to add data to the tapes once your initial migration is complete. Some small business owners prefer to send data over an encrypted line to their vault tape storage company. Someone at the company will then take care of migrating the data onto the magnetic tape. It’s uncommon for vault tape storage companies to offer this option. It’s not as safe and it can be costly to do. More often than not, small business owners prefer to keep their data 100% off-line. They’re already going to the expense of storing it off-site. They might as well ensure they are completely protected from hackers. In this case, the vault tape storage company will come to the business site when requested and pick up the data that needs to be encrypted and stored. Your preference will depend on your budget.
The downfall of off-site vault storage is cost. If you’re going to have an open tape storage on a rack, meaning you’re adding data to them regularly, that’s one cost. If you want to simply to have the tapes remain in the steel case to be shipped to you whenever you need them, that’s a different cost, which usually is cheaper. If you need to recover something off your tape, the vault tape storage company will charge you to either pull out the specific tape or bring the entire case to your business. Keep in mind, these costs will also depend on the amount of storage you’re using and how much space your tapes take up at the vault tape storage facility.
The threat of national disasters and hackers are scary thoughts to business owners. Now, more than ever, it important to think seriously about how you safeguard your business’s data and credit. People have lost everything because they were not prepared. Don’t let this happen to you—be ready for whatever comes your way with these low cost ideas.