10 Data Security Measures Every Project Manager Must Implement

From ransomware to cyber espionage, hackers have developed sophisticated techniques to break into your project data and get away with critical information. Even well-known organizations such as Verizon, Deloitte, Yahoo have fallen victim to huge data losses.

A data breach can be disastrous for your project, destroying the trust in your business, and spoiling your company’s brand name. Here are 10 steps project managers can take to keep their sensitive data safe.

1. Invest in an Antivirus

Install a trusted antivirus such as Norton, Avast or McAfee to protect your project data from a variety of security threats such as viruses, trojans, malware, spyware and worms. Free solutions can only provide basic security. Invest in a reliable premium solution that not only protects your data, but also allows your employees to securely browse the web and use emails. Ensure that your antivirus also provides real-time scanning to block any intrusion attempts as they happen.

2. Backup your data regularly

If you don’t backup your data, then you risk losing it. Ensure that you backup your data frequently so you can restore it quickly, in case it is hacked. Make copies of your data and store it in cloud storage solutions like Google Cloud, Dropbox, or Box.net. It will also ensure that your project runs smoothly in case of infrastructure failures such as laptop crashes and network issues. Schedule regular backups of your data so you don’t have to regret later.

3. Use a firewall

Firewall is one of the best ways to protect your network. It secures your project by allowing you to control the internet traffic coming in and going out of your network. Start by installing a reputed firewall like Comodo or Avast to precisely manage data access and permissions. The key is to create multiple layers of security that make it difficult for hackers to get in.

4. Use strong passwords

Did you know that in 93% of data breaches, hackers take less than a minute to break into the target system? Simple, easy-to-guess passwords enable hackers to compromise your system. According to Microsoft, you should never use personal details and common words spelled backwards in your password. Use passwords that are hard to guess that are 10-12 characters in length, and consist of alphabets, numbers and special characters.

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5. Use encryption software

Although laptops, tablets and mobiles have replaced desktops at workplace, their portability makes them vulnerable to being stolen. So use a disk encryption software such BitLocker to encrypt your devices. It provides a 256-bit AES (bank level security) encryption for your data. In fact, it’s already installed on most Windows Operating Systems and very easy to use. Make sure that your employees haven’t turned it off to speed up their systems.

6. Update your software

Many organizations avoid updating their software and platforms to save licensing costs and avoid compatibility problems. However, it leaves your business open to security attacks. Ensure that you not only use good software but also update it regularly. This will fix numerous bugs and security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. In fact, most software (operating system, browsers, email client) are set to automatically download and install the latest updates. Many users turn it off to save bandwidth. Leave it on to protect your data.

7. Secure mobile devices

Mobile devices have proliferated almost every workplace. From checking emails to sharing documents to sending chat messages, mobile devices are increasingly being used to store and share sensitive information. Since they’re easy to get lost or stolen, it’s essential to take mobile security seriously. The best way to secure your mobile devices is to enable their advanced security features such as 2-factor authentication, remote wiping, and encryption.

8. Protect wireless networks

Whether your team is in a video conference, or collaboratively working on a deliverable, people are increasingly depending on wireless networks to get work done. Unfortunately, wireless networks are more susceptible to cyber attacks than wired networks, because of their open nature. So you need to be extra careful about securing your wireless networks. Instead of using the old WEP (wireless equivalent privacy) technology, switch to the more secure WPA2 (wi-fi protected access version 2). Also, if possible, add an extra layer of security by using complex PSK (pre-shared key)

9. Watch out for suspicious activity

If your system is compromised, it will immediately show an unusual amount of activity. Setup security alerts to be notified about unauthorized access and data breaches. Monitor key performance indicators of your network using real-time dashboards. In fact, many of these dashboard solutions easily integrate with popular software and tools, and allow you to track all your KPIs from one place.

10. Train your team

It’s not enough to build a secure infrastructure. It’s equally important to educate your employees about cyber security. Sometimes, data breaches also happen because employees casually share data, passwords and documents.

Educate your employees about your security protocols and conduct role-playing workshops to simulate real-life scenarios. Create awareness using video tutorials, and Q&A sessions. This will teach them how to use your hardware, software and data the right way.

Also teach them safe browsing habits so they can avoid external threats such as malicious emails, unsafe plugins, and harmful software. This will also train them on how to securely access sensitive information on public wi-fi networks.

Wrapping up

With the rise in cyber attacks, data security has become more important than ever. A data breach can compromise your project and thwart it from being a success. It can destroy your team’s hard work and allow competitors to steal your data. The above steps will help you create a multi-layered security system that not only safeguards your project but also allows you to identify, prevent and eliminate the risk of cyber attacks.

Sreeram Sreenivasan

Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of Business Growth & Marketing Strategy. He’s the Founder of Ubiq BI, a BI Platform for SMBs & Enterprises. He also runs the Fedingo blog that covers a wide range of marketing topics.

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