Data Protection Starts with your Employees

Not so long ago, a company’s most valuable asset was either their financial capital or patents listed under their name; however, the fast pace in which we constantly need to adapt to technology updates require us to deal with a new potential risk: unauthorised data access.

As the saying goes by: “time is money”, the same thing can be applied to data, since informational resources happen to be even more important than monetary value these days. The reason for making such statement relies on the importance of trustworthy sources for investigation purposes, and the constant thrive for innovation among most competitive business industries. For that sole reason, data protection has become a new industry on its own, requiring thousands of dollars a month (depending on the size in which you can measure your company) for securing sensitive data from either hackers or industry rivals worldwide.

Nevertheless, another important aspect of this scenario is commonly neglected: the role of employees in data protection strategies.

‘Is my password secure?’ I think not

Data leaks tend to start at the most basic stage: email hacking. The truth is many people happen to use the same simple passwords for either email, social media networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), online video games, and a large list of etcetera we can picture.

As we can check in the following infographic, passwords can be guessed either by people who knows typical personal details such as your dog’s name, birthplace and many other usual password recovery questions; hackers tend to rely on the usage of brute force attack tools for cracking your password, meaning that the complex, the merrier.

Infographic courtesy of Avatier

Sometimes policies just help to get the message

You shouldn’t consider the act of setting data protection policies as an aggressive posture against your personnel: you are just defending the best interests of your business. Employees can join and leave your company anytime, and most probably they were someplace else in which similar policies are applied.

An example of this can be witnessed in the automotive industry, where engineering experts are expected to take a “gardening leave” for what’s considered a 6-month period prior joining a competitor brand as a way of protecting company’s secrets. For such a fast-paced industry, 6 months is considered enough time for their information to become outdated, or for new products to be released without risking “leaks” among the company’s competitors.

Limit access to sensible information

Set access levels for those files that can compromise your company’s best interests, like patents for upcoming products, financial reports and so on. By applying this tactic, only those trusted employees with a considerable working span for your brand can access to these files, meaning chances are limited for your data to fall into the wrong hands.

This can be easily implemented by crafting ID cards, installing fingerprint scanners or letting individual access points to become only available through the physical installations of your company and not by logging someplace else: this translates in reducing chances for hackers to act.

VPNs and International Business

For those companies whose staff needs to travel frequently to attend congresses, work meetings or for training purposes, the best thing is to allow access to working data through VPN services.

Photo courtesy of Chevanon Photography

Unbeknownst to us, hackers may set keyloggers at cybercafés; malware might be acquired through public networks, compromising data exchange between the company and the worker that happens to be abroad. VPNs use advanced encryption protocols that make data inaccessible for intruders, being the safest non-physical data transfer method known to date.

Don’t neglect the impact of Social Media Networks

Most companies worldwide have their own protection shields for data leak by restricting access to social media networks at the workspace. Not only this helps employees to focus on the work to be done and boosts productivity under the same step, but also it is a proven fact that unintentional data leaks are bound to happen among daily conversation between peers, in which images sent can seriously affect marketing campaigns aside from many other potential threats for a brand.

Photo courtesy of

The truth is that with smartphones crew members can simply dodge these measures easily; however, many companies have gone to the extent of banning smartphone usage during work time as a way to avoid distractions courtesy of games, texting or social media. It may seem like an archaistic measure, undoubtedly, thus it proves to be the way to go for several companies worldwide and a method not to be ignored for protecting the business’s data.