Data and information security should be priorities for most modern businesses. Even accidental leaks can expose private customer data, employee information, or industry secrets, all of which could endanger business, hurt profits, or result in lawsuits and litigation. Increasing business security in a meaningful way will require assessing risks and their potential fallout and then taking steps to reduce those risks in a strategic way. However, most organizations suffer from the same weaknesses in terms of information and data leaking, which means that you can look at your likely issues first.

These 6 ways to increase business security cover some of the most common security risks in organizations, and how you can fix them.

Develop a BYOD Policy

Bring Your Own Device or BYOD is an inevitability in most organizations. At the end of the day, you cannot prevent employees from bringing phones and tablets into your organization without taking extreme measures to prevent them doing so. Most will also eventually check email, share work-related documents, and other information from their private devices, unless those things are locked to a virtual machine.

A BYOD policy will restrict how individuals are able to use devices, protection and requirements for individuals using devices, and what they are or are not expressly allowed to access from phones and own devices. While this will change a great deal depending on the organization, simply creating rules and ensuring everyone is aware of them will help a great deal.

For example, you want anyone on your network to have antivirus and firewalls installed and running, everyone on your network to have up-to-date software, and everyone to follow basic protocols for device security such as using passwords.

Utilize VLan and VPN

Virtual LAN and Virtual Private Network allow you to extend privacy and security onto local area networks and to increase the security of the internet as a whole. However, there are drawbacks to using VPN. For example, it may slow upload or download speed, which can be a huge disadvantage in organizations uploading large files to the internet, sharing large files from one organization to another, or otherwise moving data from one server to another. While you can get around this by attempting to create shared servers for large-file usage, you should keep it in mind when implementing.

Most businesses have poorly secured local access networks, simply because their primary weak points are hardware. This means that if someone does access the network, there is very little to stop them from accessing the whole network. With access available through printers and remote-access computers, most LAN’s aren’t as secure as people think. Virtual local access networks allow you to confine broadcast domains, reduce broadcast traffic, and enforce security protocols, greatly reducing those risks at a minimum extra cost to you.

Increase Printer Security

Printers are a huge risk point for many organizations because of a number of factors. The average printer connects to the internet, supports remote access, stores a print-queue on a local hard-drive (unsecured), prints unsecured, and leaves data in a print-tray if owners don’t immediately pick up files. Most also directly connect to LAN networks, meaning they are risk points for remote and local (USB) attacks.

Moving to solutions such as managed print services helps you to eliminate these kinds of risks, because MPS evaluates your print security needs, and distributes hardware and software solutions that match. If your organization needs high security or includes some high-security areas such as HR and Finance, those areas receive private-access printers requiring access keys or cards to print, secured printer queues, and secured hardware. You also receive printer management software, allowing you to cut costs and risks through online file management and user access management.

Firewalls and Antimalware

Implementing basic firewalls and antimalware/antivirus is a step most organizations think they’ve taken, but many leave out key weak points such as printers, USB ports, routers, and modems. Ensuring that every device with internet connection on your network is secured is crucial to preventing leaks, accidentally creating a weakness in your existing firewalls, and improving security. This can be a difficult task, especially if you don’t have a central management system up, but it is important to do so, create protocols ensuring that software is kept up to date, and to create a management program for devices that may be too old to support secure software.

Implement an Access Matrix

The smaller your organization, the less access matters. Many startups will find themselves simply sharing passwords across the organization, using one log-in for tools, and failing to use any kind of data-protection for files on servers. As organizations grow, these policies often remain in place, despite presenting massive risks. Individuals can change items they shouldn’t have access to with no trace for who made what changes. Updates can go unnoticed or unimplemented without change management.

Implementing an access matrix allows you to track users, control their access to files and software, and to create an automatic log of which users accessed what, without greatly increasing security. The easiest way to achieve this is to use a simple password manager, which allows user-access management, so you can control access to specific items without creating numerous individual logins for software that might not even support more users. You should also ensure you have policies in place to match usernames to physical identity, to assess access needs on a regular basis, and to remove access when someone no longer needs that access.

Create an Awareness Program

From poor online security and email usage to failing to update software, employees are often your largest security risk. At the same time, most are not malignant. Risks are typically created through lack of awareness and attention, and leaks are often the result of simple accidents. Taking the time to educate your employees on security protocols and standards, as well as the reasoning behind them, will greatly increase security. For example, creating an “empty tray” policy for printers increases data security, ensuring individuals use secure passwords, don’t open emails with attachments from unknown sources, and don’t plug external USB ports into internal machines are just some of the steps you can take to improve employee-based business risks.

Improving business security is crucial, because even a simple data leak can hurt your business reputation, cost in terms of lost customers and employees or litigation, and waste resources. Taking steps to reduce risks will pay off in the long-term, will help you to earn compliance where needed, and will benefit your organization.