14 February 2008

The astute director makes absolutely sure his company databases are fortified. Your databases are your competitors marketing advantage, so protecting them is hugely important to your business.

In light of recent travesties such as 25million records disappearing from a government database in a day, it is no wonder data protection is a hot topic. With the storage of more online data than ever before, security worries are multiplying quickly.

There are several reasons for protecting your databases, including customer confidentiality, protecting your client base and keeping the secret to your business’s success.

Client records must be kept safe under the Data Protection Act, which states customer information must be: “kept secure with appropriate technical and organisational measures taken to protect the information”.

Trade secrets are your business’s foundations. CocaCola for example, is unlikely to give away the secret of its taste to new employees. Not only would competitors be able to make the drink themselves, but the company would lose the mystical brand image that has been cultivated for over a hundred years.

Similarly, with regards to my web development company, Text, if somebody was to gain access to our coding, we would lose the competitive advantages we gained through hard work and dedication. If other companies start to use our coding it makes all our hard work trivial.

As your company increases in size, you employ more new people who you have to grow to trust over time. If there are no restrictions on company computers just think what could be carried away on a USB drive or sent via web based email.

Employee access to personal applications at work is something which differs for every company, of course. But in my opinion it is something to be seriously considered in your business strategy. Think carefully. A company depends upon its databases. It is a director’s duty to protect them. By eliminating opportunity you can ease concern that your own data can be removed.

Businesses have several ways of protecting important information. Limiting access to specific drives, disabling USB ports and blocking web based email accounts are just a number of ways.

I know of several managing directors who take these strategies to the absolute pinnacle but I’m a believer that with some standard procedures in place you can be sure that your in-house databases are safe.

As managers you may worry about your company gaining a reputation for being dictatorial with such precautions, however there are compensations you can take on board to avoid this feeling. Installing computer terminals in the staff room that are not attached to the company network is just one of these. This can allow staff to view web based email accounts in their break times without the concern that they can attach and send company information. The history of their work email can be recorded and this is deterrent enough.

As is often the case, instilling a great work ethic within your team is the secret to success but it always pays to stay secure and reduce risk.

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