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Data breaches threaten to expose sensitive information about clients, partners, and employees. In a data-driven world, information represents both an asset and a liability. When a company’s data becomes compromised due to a hack or leak, blame is assigned after the fact rather than before.

Here are five questions a business should ask before their information becomes compromised:

1.     Is my company’s data protected?

There are numerous tools for managing and delivering company data. Protecting that data is often a missed step in the data management process. Has your company gone to the correct lengths to encrypt its data Encryption can be effective at multiple levels.

2.     Are my employees trained to handle data safely and confidentially?

Employees are asked to learn and master new tools to streamline processes almost each day. These new tools are as benign as the new payroll software or the office messaging application. An essential part of doing business in 2016 has to with following proper and effective security protocols. Are employees logging onto company software on approved company devices? If an employee logs onto company software using a personal device, and that personal device is compromised, then the company may be liable for any data that is leaked or hacked.

3.     How many of my employees are using their birthday, their spouse’s name, or “password” as their passwords for company services or logins?

Hackers can “guess” employee passwords if they lack enough complexity. “123456” was the most used password in 2015; “password” being the second. These are passwords are simple and common enough for hackers to guess.

4.     Are the internet services my business provides transited upon a secure connection or a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)?

Information is often at its most vulnerable when being transmitted from one source to another. Secured connections exist to protect customer data and prevent businesses from being liable for data leaks.

5.     How vulnerable is my industry to hackers and data leaks?

While all businesses can suffer from data leaks or hackers, some businesses, such as law practices and healthcare providers, are especially vulnerable. When businesses such as these lose confidential data, they can be the target of some especially punishing lawsuits or settlements. Businesses should analyze their industry and its relationship with cyber security in order to identify patterns to minimize their potential risk. If in a recent year, hackers have noticeably begun targeting healthcare providers, then a healthcare provider would do well to protect itself and invest in more cyber security.

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