In light of various high-profile security breaches that happened recently such as the Ashley Madison blunder and other high profile hacks on national chains, (Home Depot and Target) customers have recently found out that nobody is safe from a data breach. However, there are steps every company, big or small, can implement to make sure that their customers’ data remain safe. Here are four of these methods.

Make Cyber Security a Goal

Most small to medium-sized businesses relegate data security to either a third party IT contractor or to a single IT employee. However, cyber security and data protection should be the responsibility of everyone in the company. As a matter of fact, a large number of security breaches either involve internal threats or working with third party contractors.

This is especially true when it comes to data recovery. In some cases, data recovery is inevitable. However, the caveat is that data recovery services will ultimately have access to the data retrieved. This is why it’s always better to go with companies with a solid track record and confidentiality policy. Companies such as Secure Data Recovery for instance clearly display their SSAE 16 certificate on their website. If the data recovery service you’re intending to hire can’t show their certifications, run away.

Make Sure User Data is Properly Encrypted

While encryption should be the first thing any company that deals with sensitive data should do, it is still staggering to see how many businesses still do not use data encryption.

If you process credit card payments, crucial payment info will be decrypted automatically during the transaction. However, if payment information is stored on local servers for future reference, an additional layer of encryption should be added. And it shouldn’t only be payment information that needs to be encrypted; any personal information that is stored on your servers should be encrypted to protect the general public.

Be Sure Your Clients Understand Your Data Sharing Policy Clearly

Many customers have openly admitted that they do not feel comfortable sharing their information with brands. This is mainly due to the fact that companies are often reluctant to reveal how their information will be shared with third parties. This is why it is important to be transparent from the start about how their data will be shared.

Limit the Availability of Data

Data that is too easily accessible is just asking to be breached. IOT and networking advancements have made it easier for a variety of devices to reach databases, limiting how available data is to various employees in your organization is a must, and that includes upper management. Also, you should educate your employees on data protection and how to handle sensitive information.

While many smaller business owners may have a hard time wrapping their head around the principle of data protection, all the steps in this article can be easily implemented. Just make sure that you limit how data is available, do not share your clients’ info unless you have their express consent, make sure you use solid data encryption and make cyber security the affair of everybody in your business.