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How important is your data? Silly question, right? Your data is everything. When was the last time you performed a data security audit?

Don’t wait for an official audit to determine your weaknesses. Or worse, a breach. A self-audit can be very useful to show you where simple changes can make all the difference.

1. Define the audit

Think of your audits as pop quizzes. They can be general or narrow in focus. You can look at your practice as a whole, or niche it down and look at very specific things. Define your security perimeter to create your list of things to consider.

2. Define the threats

Define all of the threats that can impact everything within your security perimeter. Think small – how can one employee trip up the system? Think big – what happens if a hurricane/tornado/earthquake/fire hits? Think everything in between.

3. Define the risks

Each threat has its own chance of happening within your business. Can you put a price tag on it? Can you prioritize how likely it is to occur? While you can’t predict everything, with common knowledge and a little bit of gut instinct you can determine how likely you are to face each risk.

4. Define the controls

If you know where your risks are, you can devise a way to improve the process. You can improve on activities you already have in place, or you can implement action steps that are missing. You can also establish timelines for upgrading on a regular basis.

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