Improper data security measures can result in a breach or data loss that can derail a project and devastate a business. Here are five data security measures every project manager must implement.
Access Rights Management
Access rights management technology and policies ensure that team members are only able to access the things they need to throughout the project and that they can’t-- intentionally or not-- commit any fraudulent activity. Access rights management software can help prevent data loss, provide an overhead view of everyone’s activity within shared files, and identify any suspicious activity (source: https://www.solarwinds.com/access-rights-manager).
With access rights management in place, project managers can ensure that critical project files are inaccessible to the majority of the broader team. This could include anything from data backups to company financial information.
Firewalls and Anti-Virus Software
Anti-virus software and firewalls are simple-yet-effective barriers to put in place to protect data from external threats. A firewall controls the flow of internet data to and from your business, which can be crucial when logging on to use cloud sharing tools. Anti-virus software can protect your data should any malware get through, and identify and remove viruses, worms, and spyware.
While a free download of these features is better than nothing, it’s worth the extra investment to get a high-quality, paid version of a firewall and anti-virus tool. These tools create multiple layers of defense and can often be enough to deter hackers who are looking for an easy opportunity.
Protected Wireless Networks
Conducting work on secure wireless networks is another important data security measure that can protect the integrity of a project. Public wireless networks create an opportunity for hackers to join and infiltrate one’s files, which is challenging since many remote teams choose to use public locations as their workspace.
Using secure connections for getting work done or collaborating online can add yet another layer of protection to the project data. Project managers should try to use a WPA2 connection rather than the default WEP whenever possible, and encourage the team to do the same.
Data backups aren’t something that project managers usually consider as a data security measure. However, it’s essential to take this proactive approach and prepare for the worst case scenario, which is your initial line of defense failing, resulting in a data breach and loss. For the best possible results, it’s important to backup project files regularly and find alternate storage options for this data apart from your usual sharing method.
Be sure to read the fine print when looking for cloud storage or third-party backup provider. Some providers only conduct backups to protect from cyber attacks on their end and will not provide a backup for human error or a breach through one of your team members’ computers.
Perhaps the most important step project managers can take toward effectively securing data is to educate the team. It’s estimated that 47% of data loss in surveyed businesses occurred due to employee error. Many cybersecurity experts see employees as the biggest threat to an organization, and in most cases, they lack malicious intent.
It’s important to have a conversation with team members about the implications and threats to protecting project data. Discuss password requirements, let them know the best practices for sharing files, and explain if access rights management tools are in place to track and log their activity. Education is the best line of defense in data security.
By having the right tools in place and teaching the broader team how to be careful with cybersecurity, project managers can implement the right measures to secure the data and contribute to a project’s long-term success.