Watch CBS News

Data Breaches: Expert Tips For Protecting Small Businesses


A data breach can be devastating to a small business. Protect yourself, so security issues don't take your company under.

Limit computer access

Not every employee needs full access to your network. Limit the number of people who have administrative capabilities; more access means more breach opportunities.

This also applies to outside companies with whom you work. Thoroughly investigate their security plans before outsourcing work to them, and provide only the data and access that they must have in order to accomplish their tasks.

Lock up files

Many of your files might be digital these days, but you probably have paperwork, too. Store it in a secure spot, such as a locked filing cabinet.

Do the same for computer paraphernalia and hardware. Lock up flash drives, external hard drives, even laptops. Consider measures to keep laptops from being removed from the premises.

Turn up security settings

Make your computers as safe as possible by ensuring that they have the latest security updates installed. Keep a log of what systems are used where in your company, so if a new security patch is released, you know exactly if and where you need to download it.

Go into the security settings on your devices and select the highest level of security for each option. If the highest settings interfere with necessary business operations, lower them only as much as absolutely necessary.

Consider insurance

Some insurance companies now offer data breach insurance that can assist if a compromise does occur. Insurance policies are no substitute for careful protection of customer information, but if they unthinkable does happen, they can mean the difference between going under and weathering the storm.

Provide training

As the old saying goes, "Knowledge is power," and when it comes to employees and confidential information, this is certainly true. Your company should have policies in place regarding data security, such as how to handle customer information and what to do if security lapses are suspected. Make education on these matters a part of your new hire training, but also offer regular refreshers to all employees.

Have a plan in place

If a data breach does happen, quick response is key. Stay one step ahead by creating an action plan before you need it. Hopefully, you won't ever have to put it into place, but it's better to have it and not need it than the other way around.

Meghan Ross is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on

For more information, visit CBS San Francisco's Identity Theft section

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.