10 Steps to prevent data misuse and theft


Data breaches and cyber-attacks are increasing day by day, and data security has become crucial. Businesses need to use some form of security and prevention strategies to prevent data theft regardless of their size. A data breach can be caused by mishandling and misuse of data by employees, or by malicious insiders.

Small and medium-sized businesses are at more risk of data theft than larger organisations. SMEs often consider the outside attacks and pay importance to them, but do not pay attention to internal staff, contractors or visitors.

As a result, businesses end up losing control over sensitive information. Data theft can cause serious damage to your reputation.  Following the steps below will help prevent data theft from your organisation.

Misuse of data is a crime, and when you find someone responsible, SMBs must take legal action against the perpetrator, by immediately terminating the employment contract and seeking legal advice for further proceedings.

Some insiders, who can make misuse of confidential data, are current or a former employee, a contractor, a service provider, or anybody else involved in your business. All these people have access to confidential data and they can misuse the data and harm your organisation. In this article, we will discuss ten steps to prevent employee misuse of data.

10 Tips to prevent data theft

In smaller businesses, the risk of a data breach is more. As a business or company owner, you can follow the below-given tips to prevent data theft.

1. Know your employees

Internal employees can also be involved in a data breach, so you need to know your employees. Keep an eye on their activities, especially when:

  • They start to show devotion to work and start working after office hours.
  • Their lifestyle is against their salary level.
  • They start putting objections on changes related to inventory or financial matters.
  • There is clear evidence of gambling and persistent borrowing.

It is important to check employees’ backgrounds before hiring them so that you can trust them and allow them to deal with financial matters and sensitive data.

2. Supervise members of staff

Studies have shown that when there is a lack of supervision, misuse and theft of data goes up. Supervising your employees never means that to look over their shoulder every time. It means to keep an eye on their daily routine and activities. You can have more than one person to look for your money.

3. Never assign multiple tasks to one staff member

Preparation of purchase orders, payments, and receipts are all different functions, so never allow one person to handle all these tasks. It would be great to have different individuals for all these tasks. Verify purchase orders and receipts to prevent money theft.

4. Secure Sensitive Information

Employees mostly target sensitive information to enjoy benefits. Sensitive data includes PII for employees, trade secrets, financial reports, and other confidential data of the company. If this information isn’t in safe hands, it can cause serious damage to your business and reputation. To prevent data theft, secure your sensitive information. Store your removable storage devices and important paper files in a locked drawer or cabinet when not in use.

See also: Top 10 Cyber Security tips

5. Dispose of sensitive data securely

One of the main reasons for data theft is negligence. We throw important documents without disposing of the sensitive data. Shred documents that contain confidential and sensitive information. Before selling or replacing your electronic devices, such as tablets, computers, and smartphones remove all the data from these devices.

6. Use Strong Passwords

Hackers use different approaches to crack your passwords. Moreover, your employees are aware of your passwords, so keep on changing the passwords and set a strong password protection system. Never use the same passwords on devices that contain sensitive information. It is crucial to set complex and strong passwords to prevent data theft. Change these passwords at least after three months.

See Top 15 Password Security tips

7. Use strong anti-malware

The best way to get data is to insert malware into your systems. It allows employees to have access to sensitive information and cause damage to your business. When an employee uses an unofficial USB, it means malware is installed. Moreover, it can be installed by clicking the infected link on a website or email. The best way to tackle viruses is by installing antivirus software on all your systems and keeping an eye on your employees’ suspicious activities.

8. Encrypt Data

If all the data is computerized, then the best way to prevent data theft is data encryption. Data encryption is crucial whether the data is stored in a device or transmitted over the internet. A person with a key can decode it. Data encryption is recommended for all devices that contain sensitive information. Many software offer built-in data encryption, just follow the instruction, and activate data encryption. Moreover, you can purchase encryption programs as well. SSL certificates can encrypt your sensitive information like debit card details and other confidential data.

9. Keep your operating systems and software up to date

Software owners continuously make changes in their programs to address security vulnerabilities. For this reason, you need to keep your operating systems and software up to date. These updates can prevent your sensitive information from inside and outside attacks.

Moreover, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to prevent outsiders from accessing sensitive information. VPN provide security while working remotely.

10. Build Trust

It is crucial to have a system so that employees can report if someone is misusing the data. Build trust so that a coworker can report fraud and data theft. Ensure that you are doing this wisely and not letting your employees know that you don’t trust them.

If you found any suspicious activity before accusation investigates the matter. If someone is involved in data theft, then terminate the contract and take legal action. The best way to prevent data theft is to enable coworkers to report the fraud and misuse of data.

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