A data breach is when confidential and sensitive information is accessed by an unauthorized person. This act is unwanted and illegal. The stolen material is often shared or sold on illicit online markets without the owners’ permission.
In recent times it has become increasingly common for high-profile breaches to take place. In many cases the breached company finds it hard to recover their brand position. Customers take their privacy seriously, and a breach of information leads to reputational loss for the affected company.
These losses can cost millions, either by directly containing the breach through emergency IT interventions, or by paying ransom to threat actors. Reputational loss and reduction in brand equity can be incalculable.
Here are some ways to prevent data security breaches:
Invest in a good cybersecurity product
It sounds obvious, and it is often enacted when it is too late, but a strong cybersecurity program is a powerful line of defense against a data breach.
If any of your staff happen to click a malicious link or download an infected file, a good program will typically contain the threat and stop it penetrating your network. Your IT services provider can then clean up the threat and install patches.
Know your asset inventory
Knowing what hardware and software your firm has in its inventory will go a long way toward putting you on a good footing in the event of a data security breach. Understanding the different versions of operating systems being used by your endpoints allows you to plan better.
Many firms grow too fast before they can put in place a unified IT procurement plan. It is not uncommon for some firms to have a range of different hardware and software items for different departments or sites.
If a full-scale rationalization of IT inventory is not possible, at the very least a thorough threat analysis will reveal all the vulnerabilities in your endpoint inventory. These must be plugged at once with high-level encryption technology and enterprise-wide data protection protocols.
Install speed bumps to slow a malicious attack
At a user level, you can institute the Principle of Least Privilege, which allows users to access only the information they need to perform their jobs, and no more. At a network level you can practice data segmentation, which is the act of putting in place walls between data sections which can slow a breach and naturally help any efforts to control and contain it. Once your IT support is alerted, be it a remote solution like IT support Singapore or even IT Support Vermont, swift action can be initiated.
Update your software regularly
Another useful and highly effective tool is to get into the habit of updating your software regularly. Update all software habitually and install patches as needed. When programs age, they become more vulnerable to newer, more powerful methods of invasion and attack. Updating these programs builds resilience and keeps up with the ever-improving strength of malicious software.
Make third party vendors compliant
Many companies will have a range of third party vendors whose systems are connected to theirs. This could be in the form of an extranet or shared online resource. It is important to ensure that vendors uphold the same strict standards of data security that you install.
The alternative is a potentially destructive data breach and possible litigation. No firm is an island in the new cyber jungle, and all firms alike, large or small, face similar threats. Vendors who are resistant to such a crucial requirement reveal themselves to be untrustworthy.
Train and educate your staff
On average, every employee has access to 11 million files. 17% of all sensitive files are accessible to all employees. Your staff are potentially your biggest strength and your biggest weakness. After all, it is staff who often unintentionally click on links which allow malware to enter your system. Therefore, an up-to-date and well-trained workforce can be your biggest defense against any malicious attack.
Be sure to make your cybersecurity training regular and engaging. Also keep detailed logs of who undertakes the training and ensure that testing occurs as part of the process for them to access new material.
Help staff to understand that their endpoint, be it a computer or mobile device, is a potential entry into the whole system. A recent report shows the number of firms planning to train their staff on data security is on the rise, at 39% in 2020, up from 34% the previous year.
Alternatively, you can outsource your cybersecurity operations. Here are the reasons to outsource cyber security.
Install a cyber breach response plan
Create a cyber breach response plan and link it to tangible contingency plans. Have backup communication channels if your network has been compromised. In instances such as these, your IT services provider will have examples of best in class reaction and support that your business will need.
If you have a ransomware incident that disrupts your IT systems, being able to operate and communicate through secondary means will be important. Many security breaches have been revealed by firms well after the incident. As data breaches become more commonplace, it is good for firms to be upfront with customers when this happens. Communication speaking notes can be integrated in the cyber response plan.
Data security protection must be viewed as more than a tick box which is not given enough attention. Lessons must be learned from other high-profile attacks and this should serve as a cautionary exercise to take it more seriously. Your data breach containment plan needs to be well-thought out and should cover your operations and your reputation in the event of an incident.
The loss to brand equity is massive when a data breach happens. Recent examples of firms such as Yahoo suffering repeated breaches have led to them being accused of negligence. Clients can rightly question if threats are being taken seriously enough. Firms need to ensure that they integrate data security measures into their overall security plan.
About The Author:
Steve Loyer is the president and CEO of Tech Group, LLC., an IT Support Vermont company. With over 25 years of sales and service experience in network and network security solutions, Steve has earned technical and sales certificates from Microsoft, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Citrix, Sonicwall, Symantec, McAfee, Barracuda and American Power Conversion. Steve graduated from Vermont Technical College with a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technology. Recently he wrote a blog on steps to build a successful business continuity plan.
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