Information and data security are vital topics across numerous industries today, and the contracting world is definitely among them. While contractors aren't necessarily sharing top-secret government information per se, they absolutely do deal with sensitive info, from client data and credit card information to several other areas -- so ensuring information security for your contracting business is a vital task.
At Contractors School, we happily assist contractors with a wide range of business setup and related services for their growing Utah contracting businesses, with programs that also include contractors license education and several others. What are some tips we offer to clients on how to maintain information security, whether in the cybersecurity realm or any related area? Here's a general primer.
Wherever your company's primary data is stored, whether this is on a computer, in file cabinets or some other location, it's important to have regular backups in place -- and not just one backup, but multiple in different locations. That way, if something should happen to the primary data (a computer crashes, a fire burns down the office, etc.), you'll always have others to fall back on.
You can keep backups onsite in a fireproof safe or another location, or you can choose to go offsite with cloud storage or some other option. This is really a matter of preference, but what's important is that you have at least two backups in place so that you're never left completely high and dry.
For all devices that may contain sensitive information, it's important to have some form of multi-factor authentication in place. This usually means a password plus another form of identification, such as a fingerprint scan or code sent to your phone. That way, even if someone were to somehow get your password, they wouldn't be able to access the device or data without that second factor.
Of course, it's important to make sure that all passwords are strong in the first place. Avoid using easily guessed words or phrases, and instead opt for a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. The longer the better, as well -- aim for at least 12 characters if possible. You can also use a password manager to help keep track of everything.
If possible, you should also encrypt all sensitive data, whether this is stored on a device or in transit. This means that even if someone were to somehow get their hands on the data, they wouldn't be able to make sense of it without the encryption key.
There are different types of encryption, but one of the most common is AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). This is used by the US government, among others, and is generally considered to be quite secure.
While we wish it were not the case, the reality is that in an industry like contracting, where you'll spend so much time out of the office, theft is always a possibility. As such, it's important to be prepared in case a device does go missing.
First, make sure that all devices are password protected and have some form of multi-factor authentication in place (as mentioned above). You should also have a remote wipe feature enabled so that you can erase all data from a device if it's lost or stolen. And finally, consider using GPS tracking so that you can at least know where the device is, even if you can't get it back.
When utilizing email for business correspondence, there are a few safety measures you should take to ensure that all information remains secure. First, avoid sending sensitive information via email whenever possible. If you must send it, make sure to encrypt the message and/or attach files.
You should also be careful about what links you click on and what attachments you open. Even if an email looks like it's from a trusted source, it could still be a phishing attempt. If you're ever unsure, err on the side of caution and reach out to the person directly to confirm that they actually sent the email before taking any action.
Another important cybersecurity measure is to make sure that all software is kept up to date. This includes the operating system, as well as any apps or programs that are installed.
When new updates are released, they often include patches for security vulnerabilities that have been discovered. By installing these updates, you can help keep your devices and data safe from potential attacks.
Finally, it's important to have a plan in place in case something does go wrong. This should include steps for how to recover data, as well as who to contact for help.
Make sure that everyone on your team knows the plan and understands their role in executing it. That way, you can be confident that you're prepared for anything. For instance, if a device is lost or stolen, you'll know exactly who to contact and what needs to be done to get back up and running as quickly as possible.
With the right simple steps, you can help keep your contracting business information safe and secure. By implementing things like multi-factor authentication, encryption and regular software updates, you can give yourself peace of mind knowing that your data is well-protected. And in the event that something does go wrong, having a plan in place will help ensure that you're able to recover quickly and efficiently.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our resources for contractors in Utah, speak to the team at Contractors School today.