As an entrepreneur, you’re progressing through the earliest phases of development; you have a functional business model, a committed investor base, a small but growing team of employees, and the infrastructure (space, hardware, etc) to get things moving and get your enterprise off the ground.
In a few years, you’ll be a well-established business with a recognizable culture and a loyal customer base. So before that happens, and before certain cultural elements, policies, and aspects of your brand become entrenched, take action now to place these things on a positive path—a path that can lead to both security and success.
For example, now may be the perfect time to establish your information protection strategy. Like almost every business, your company owns and manages valuable information assets. Everything from your basic business model, to the plans and algorithms that differentiate you from your competition and protect your customers from exposure can be considered a valuable asset worthy of monitoring and protection. So as you develop your ground-up information protection strategy, divide your areas of focus into three components:
Stored Data—The information that resides within your databases
Data in Transit—The information that passes from one user or point of access to another
Data in Use—Monitor who looks at your information, when they do this, why, and the devices and circumstances involved in this process.
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
To protect your intellectual information and your customers’ privacy, you’ll need to know (and be able to track) who, how, when and where this information travels. Are your teams storing files on usb drives, shared cloud databases, or printing documents on insecure printers? How much of your proprietary information can be found on the internet? Now is the best time to delete, classify, encrypt or block access as necessary, and to start developing routines and policies that will become a matter of course later on. Cultivate a culture of respect for data management and data security.
While you’re at it, develop a culture of compliance as well. Determine which legal regulations impact your business and your interactions with customers, vendors and partners, and be ready to demonstrate your compliance to auditors.
A key element of both protection and compliance will be resilience, or the ability to respond quickly and effectively to a breakdown in your establish protection or compliance protocols. If you experience a hack or breach, will you know right away? Will you know how to report the incident to affected individuals? And will you know how to review your points of access and determine who last handled this data and when?
If you haven’t even begun to address these questions, start today. Building a strong, resilient approach to data protection and management will never be easier than it is right now, during the early phases of your company’s growth. Develop a culture and an infrastructure based on mindfulness, security, and respect.