Company data breaches are not uncommon. Actually, they happen on a daily basis. One of the most significant breaches of the 21st-century includes Yahoo data theft in 2013. The attack compromised names, dates of birth, passwords, email addresses, phone numbers, and security questions and answers of 3 billion user accounts.
Also, in 2015, Anthem breach exposed information on as many as 80 million Americans. Cyber attackers gained access to birthdays, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and employment information. It turns out that the second-largest health insurer in the US didn’t encrypt the huge volume of personal information it held.
Data hacks are a constant risk for companies, and no organization is safe. Since your company data is valuable, it is worth investing in new technologies available to ensure security and privacy as well as your brand reputation.
To improve data security and protect your company’s sensitive information, follow the steps listed below.
Prevent data breach from within
First of all, identify which data should be availed by whom. It is advised to limit the amount of data access by employees to a manageable number. Define access privileges and what type of access each employee needs.
There are indications that Anthem’s huge data breach in 2015 occurred due to stealing the network credentials of employees with high-level IT access. Also, 34% percent of data breaches involved internal actors, according to the 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report. It is best to adopt the principle of minimum privilege and give employees access only to the information they need.
Gaining access to the “crown jewels” of data causes the most damage to the company. It is especially important to identify this type of data (usually it makes up 5-10 percent of the company’s data) and implement procedures to protect information and limit the number of employees who have access to it.
Develop a data security policy
To support data security initiatives, use data classification, and facilitate adequate security responses based on the type of data.
You can classify data as public, private and restricted based on the level of sensitivity and determine guideline controls for safeguarding the data. The lowest security requirements should be applied to the least-sensitive data, while the restricted data needs to have the highest level of security control. Allow access to this type of data exclusively on a need basis.
Enforce identity and access management (IAM) policy
Identity and access management programs are designed to control user access to sensitive information within an organization, as well as to protect restricted data from unauthorized access.
These cutting-edge technologies include password-management tools, identity repositories, reporting and monitoring apps, security-policy enforcement applications, etc.
Identity and access management programs provide a secure web gateway that safeguards information against the ongoing threats of hacking, phishing, ransomware and other malware attacks.
Create strong passwords
One of the basic information security mistakes is using weak passwords for data protection. Improving password security practices is essential in reducing the risk of malicious attacks. It is crucial for employees to create strong and more complicated passwords that are difficult to crack.
A combination of letters of a mixed case, numbers, special characters, etc. is more difficult for the machine algorithm to guess. Making a minimum of 12 characters and excluding a simple combination of words is harder for hackers to trace.
Online password managers allow you to securely store, share and manage your passwords from anywhere.
Use a Stronger Firewall
A network firewall security is one of the first lines of defense in a cyber-attack. It monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic. A strong firewall provides a secure barrier between your company’s data and hackers. For additional protection, install internal firewalls aside from the standard external ones. Employees working from home should install a firewall on their home network too.
Keep Your Data Security Programs and Applications Updated
Hackers regularly take advantage of the weaknesses found in a software or operating system. Since cybercriminals can find ways to intrude known vulnerabilities in a common web application, make sure to get the latest updates of your data security apps as soon as they are available.
To protect your databases, take regular backups of your business data, on a daily or weekly basis. Regular backups protect against damage or loss due to hacking and other intrusions, human errors or hardware and software failure.
Educate the Staff
Your employees need to be educated on network security practices so that they can stay alert at all times and vigilant about phishing emails, public file-sharing applications like DropBox and malware. According to Tech Pro research, 59% of organizations allow employees to use their own devices for work purposes, with another 13% planning to allow it. Bear in mind that an outdated operating system or the lack of encryption on the employee’s device might be a potential liability.
Since there are now cheap training resources available online, consider skilling up in-house workers. There are many educational platforms that offer a variety of free and paid courses to help employees skill up into junior cybersecurity roles and earn their entry-level security certifications.
Taking security initiative and following the important measures described above are valuable steps towards reducing the risk of data breaches. To prevent malicious agents from gaining unauthorized access to high-value data, every member of an organization needs to be aware of security practices and implement them to the letter.
Creating a security-aware organization is crucial in changing the way employees approach security.
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