In the past few years, we’ve seen some of the biggest data breaches in history. Retailers like Target and Home Depot were hit hard through their point-of-sale systems, compromising the payment card data for millions of customers. Even health care institutions like Anthem have been breached, exposing patient information and other personal data. Although these organizations are slowly rebounding, they still have not yet fully recovered.

If you want to avoid these types of situations for your own business, you’ll need to follow these three data protection basics:

1) Know where your data is

One of the most critical steps is to understand what type of data you have as well as where it is located. According to a 2014 report by Informatica and the Ponemon Institute, approximately 16 percent of respondents knew where all of their sensitive structured data resided, while only around 7 percent of respondents knew where their unstructured data – like emails and documents – was located.

These numbers are dismally low for information that has the potential to destroy companies in a single breach. You’ll need to not only ensure that you have clear oversight into where your critical data resides, but also identify potential sources of risk for these platforms. This will help provide better protection and improve recovery time in the event of a disaster.

Most businesses don't know where unstructured data like emails and documents are located.Most businesses don’t know where unstructured data like emails and documents are located.

2) Make backups consistently

Backups are becoming more of a priority at most organizations, but you will need to ensure that you are executing these efforts on a regular basis, especially for your critical assets. If a breach were to take down your systems, how quickly would you be able to recover your data?

With backups, you can have peace of mind that your sensitive information is just about always safe and secure. The Federal Communications Commission suggested backing up data automatically, or at least weekly. It is also important to keep a copy off-site in the event that hardware in your physical office fails or is otherwise not accessible. With a consistent backup effort, you will have access to the most recent versions of your data and get business operations up and running quicker than ever before.

3) Create management and response plans

“With breaches becoming more commonplace, securing your assets will be essential.”

Policy in a business gives employees directions on how to complete tasks and remain compliant with industry standards. Small Biz Daily noted that developing a written data protection and management plan will detail how data should be stored and delegate responsibility for executing various items. This will create accountability and ensure that everyone is on the same page, working toward the same goals.

However, no matter how good your protection plan is, there’s likely to be some breaches that make it through your security. This calls for a comprehensive response plan that may involve things like completing backups and how often test simulations should be run. CIO noted that data breaches can be extremely costly to the affected business, but not having a plan can raise those expenses by 10 to 15 percent.

With breaches becoming more commonplace, securing and effectively overseeing your assets will be essential. By following these tips, you’ll be able to provide better data protection and survive a potential cyberattack. For more information on how to protect your small business data, check out our blog!