Bases Loaded: Make Sure Your Data’s Safe

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July 11, 2012
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August 1, 2012

Nothing upsets a standard baseball game like a thrilling base steal. Just ask Minor League fans in Pensacola, where a young shortstop boasts over 100. The Majors haven’t seen that kind of action in nearly three decades. Why? It’s a risky move, one that requires a healthy mixture of training, nerve, and speed. Lots of speed.

Speed’s also a big factor in the world of business, especially as more and more transactions move to the digital world.  Unfortunately, “steals” aren’t as rare in the online world as they are in pro baseball.

Security headlines and data breach news generate a lot of buzz (take LinkedIn and Yahoo! for recent examples). Usually the story’s focused on stock prices or consumer privacy. Small businesses may be tempted to ignore an issue that doesn’t feel applicable.

That’d be a mistake. With more emphasis being placed on the cloud, and more data passing through the Internet than ever before, your small business needs to think proactively about how to manage and protect its data. That data includes email, remotely hosted calendars, document backups, and basically any and everything your employees and customers interact with digitally.

Back to baseball, good base stealers look for moments when everyone else’s attention is focused elsewhere. Once they spy an opening they pour on the speed to get past the reacting defense. An alert pitcher keeps up with all the players on the field to stop that kind of thing. Likewise, businesses should be proactive in how they guard their database (get it, data, base, database? Oh never mind). Here’s a playbook for success:

  • Encrypt your data. For many analysts, the most shocking part of recent breaches wasn’t the breach itself, but what it exposed: data stored in plain text on supposedly tech-savvy company servers. Just like a great player can be crippled without the right gear, data shouldn’t be sent across the digital world without solid protection and encryption.
  • Update your server. Even the greatest of pros face a tougher time as the years go by, and technology has a much shorter shelf life than pro baseball. Keep your software and serve up-to-date, and pay attention to advances in the field so you know the right time to upgrade.
  • Test your security. Sabremetrics completely changed the way baseball franchises recruit and train their players. Every play from every game is studied, analyzed, and put into the overall team strategy. Your data and its security require the same amount of persistent monitoring and analysis, with frequent audits to make sure everything’s being covered.

Yes, data security is hard work, and likely will require time and money to accomplish. But it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker for your small business: there are plenty of robust, affordable options out there, ones we personally depend on keep both Cii’s data safe as well as those of our clients. We’d be glad to discuss those options with your business at any time in a data security coaching session.

No matter what, stay alert: the baseball season might be winding down, but the season’s always right for data security.