As more and more businesses embrace digital solutions to promote productivity and mobility, data security is a growing concern. News of major data breaches are unfortunately all too common today, and making sure your business has the right protocols and protections in place will help protect your sensitive customer information and valuable business data from being compromised.

Here are five best practices that can help protect your company’s data and keep your customer’s information secure.

1. Protect Against Malware

Malware opens the door to hackers, and installing and using anti-malware solutions on all devices that have access to sensitive information is your first line of defense for protecting your data. Anti-malware software should be installed on all devices that access your company’s data, including personal mobile devices used for work.

2. Limit Access to Sensitive Data

Establish a data hierarchy within your company, and limit data access only to those who require it. By limiting access to sensitive data, you are reducing your risk, and in the event of a data breach, you may be able to quickly identify a potential source based on the level of access.

3. Protect and Update Passwords

Millions of passwords are stolen and published or sold every year, and if you or your employees are using the same password for several accounts or your passwords are not strong enough, your company’s data may be at risk. Require that passwords be changed on a regular basis, and require strong passwords that cannot be cracked easily. While this is an inconvenience, it is a much smaller inconvenience than a data breach. Do not encourage the use of shared passwords or logins.

4. Backup Your Data

Most small businesses do not routinely back up their data, and those that do are much better positioned to recover from a breach or loss of data. Secure, cloud-based systems offer off-site automated backups that can help a business recover quickly after a local security breach, reducing downtime and protecting your data at the same time.

5. Educate Your Employees

Even with the most sophisticated security measures in place, your employees’ activities present the greatest risk to your business’s data security. Opening email attachments, clicking harmful links, unknowingly downloading malware, and visiting harmful websites can all put your business’s data at risk. Establishing and enforcing data security policies can reduce some risk.

It’s imperative that your employees understand and follow your company’s security polices to reduce your risk. But, more importantly, your employees must report potential security breaches immediately, enabling you to act fast to protect your data.

With the growing number of threats and attacks on small businesses, along with the growing reliance on technology, the security of your company’s data should be a top priority. Being prepared is your first line of defense – and companies that take measures to secure their data, maintain backups, and educate employees about ways to protect that data are in a better position to prevent or recover from a breach, ultimately protecting your business.