smb 3 simple ways

3 simple ways to protect your sensitive data

by Brian Wallace
With data breaches seemingly becoming more prevalent by the day, it has become increasingly important for businesses to be proactive about security.

It’s obvious why these attacks target banks or insurance providers, but the fact is virtually every business maintains information that could be valuable to criminals. If you have payment records, employee data or personally identifiable information about your customers, you have something they want.

60 percent of targeted attacks hit small and midsize businesses.

The threat extends beyond large enterprises as well. It’s estimated that 60 percent1 of targeted attacks hit small and midsize businesses, which can be especially troubling when you don’t have the resources to implement elaborate countermeasures. Beyond the immediate costs and disruption to business continuity, data breaches can erode hard-earned trust in your organization and mar your reputation with current and prospective customers.

Fortunately, there are a number of easy fixes that can help improve your security without the need for a massive technology investment. Here are a few commonly overlooked areas of risk that your business can start addressing right away:

Move past paper

Paper-based records put your information at risk. An errant invoice left on a printer tray or customer records kept in an unsecured filing cabinet can easily disappear without anyone noticing.

The danger is compounded by the fact that physical files are highly susceptible to loss due to incidents such as fire, flooding or even simple human error.

These threats can be mitigated by digitizing old records and moving to digital workflows for paper-heavy processes. The increased control and awareness afforded by digital records not only enhances security and reduces human error, it can cut costs and increase efficiency as well. Time saved by automating wasteful tasks like manual paperwork is time that can be refocused on improving your bottom line.

Paper-based records put your information at risk.

Secure your devices

While digital files are safer than their paper counterparts, they’re obviously not inherently secure. People are often shocked to find out just how much information can be recovered from an old device or drive. Couple this with the risk of lost or stolen devices that comes with an increasingly mobile workforce and it paints a clear picture of why proper encryption and disposal of any sensitive data is vital.

The need to protect mobile devices and laptops is well understood, and can be addressed through desktop encryption or a mobile device management solution that enables remote deletion in the event of loss or theft. However, many businesses have a less obvious security hole sitting in the middle of their office that may be storing sensitive data without their knowledge: the printer. Luckily, simple technologies such as locked password protection, hard drive encryption and data overwrite (which clears stored data about recent files) can make securing these devices a simple and low-cost process.

Limit unsanctioned access

Physical theft is a real threat that can often be overlooked given all of the attention toward high-tech hacking. Usually the easiest way for someone to steal your information is to simply walk in and take it.

Despite this fact, far too many businesses allow anyone to come and go as they please, instead of taking simple precautions that could keep would-be criminals out.

In tandem with the two other security considerations listed above, a card-key access system for your office can drastically cut down on the risk of physical theft. This added security can be extended to your office’s shared devices by using the same card to gate access to the office printer. Card-based authentication allows you control the level of access by employee, and provides an audit trail to help diagnose what happened in the event of an issue.

SMB security 

Learn more about printer security.
Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is a Senior Manager in Channel Marketing with Ricoh USA, Inc.  Prior to joining the marketing division, Wallace was a District Managing Consultant in the Ricoh Consulting Group. In that role, he crafted innovative solutions and strategic roadmaps for integrating technology and addressing inefficient business processes for Ricoh’s customers. Wallace’s experience with Ricoh customers has given him a unique insight into the challenges and needs of both SMB customers and global accounts.
1 "ISTR 20 Internet Security Threat Report." Symantec, April 2015.