Data breaches are nothing new. In fact, the previous year and 2017 were marred by data breaches. The year 2017 was plagued with cybersecurity invasions and such incidents have haunted us in 2018 too. Protecting user data has become increasingly important amidst stricter regulations and implementation of rules. Companies can now no longer get away by declaring that their system has been breached, they also have to pay hefty fines. Cybercriminals are frequently using various means to steal your data and the rise of cybercrime is pushing companies to spend more on their information security.
How Do Data Breaches Happen?
A data breach occurs when a cybercriminal sneaks into a data source and extracts sensitive information from there. A cybercriminal can employ various methods like physically accessing a computer or network to steal local files, getting around the network security remotely using hacking techniques or introducing malware, viruses, worms, and other suspicious programs.
Typically a data breach operation includes the following steps:
- Research: Generally, a cybercriminal will look for weaknesses in the company’s security.
- Attack: These criminals can make initial contact using either a network or a social attack.
- Network attack: A cybercriminal uses infrastructure, system and application weaknesses to bypass and crack an organization’s network. An employee can be deceived into giving his or her login credentials or may be hoodwinked into opening a malicious attachment.
- Exfiltration: Once a cybercriminal gets into someone’s computer he/she can attack the network and channel his way to confidential and sensitive company data. The hacker then extracts the data and at this point, the data breach occurs.
With the cost of data breaches continuing to rise, it is a ripe time to find solutions that protect your customers’ data and your reputation while abating potential risks. From ensuring proper employee training to having restrictive permission policy in place or keeping a cybersecurity team, here are some important steps your company can take to protect itself against data breach:
1. Define a security policy: You should initiate the process by announcing a set of guidelines or best practices that your employees should follow. IT decision-makers should evaluate and update corporate policies more frequently. Your policies should be conveyed to all the concerned departments. Policies should be straightforward like not leaving the computers logged on, not sharing the passwords with co-workers, etc.
2. Contact or employ a cyber-security specialist: You can get the help of a cybersecurity specialist to educate your employees about the data breaches that might have happened in the past. Even big companies like Yahoo, Facebook, and large banks have gone through these kinds of incidents in the past. A cybersecurity specialist can inform you and your workers about such incidents and how to be extra careful because a data breach does not only result in the theft of sensitive data, but it also mars the reputation of the company along with the financial losses that the company might suffer.
3. Install Access Management Software:
Company’s data is sensitive. Not every employee should have access to everything because most of the data breaches happen because of insiders. An employee can intentionally or unintentionally expose your data. So, you should provide access only to those components of your company’s database and software that an employee needs for his task. To restrict employees’ access according to their job profile and projects you should use good access management software.
4. Incorporate the right technology: Inculcate the practice of investing in the right technology for your company. Having the right technology is a very important line of defense to protect your sensitive data from hackers, malware and other forms of cyber threats. You can work towards a layered approach to protect against security threats.
5. Keep your passwords and device secure: You should keep a separate account for your business, personal uses, and banking. If anyone hacks into your personal account they should not get the access to your business or banking site. Remember to encrypt all your passwords and sensible data.
6. Maintain compliance with regulations: It is pivotal to comply with the regulations if you want to secure your data and prevent a breach. If you wish to keep your HR, legal and other documents protected then interact with your cloud vendors to know where the data is stored and where it is processed.
7. System monitoring: Employ a system monitoring program where the HR department can monitor the behavior of the employees. This will help you and your company to understand the insider behavior. You should combine it with data prevention technology which will help you to set rules which can be used to block content that you do not want to leave your network.
8. Backup your data: Typically a lot of breaches occur by the theft or loss of backup data which can be in the form of physical data like CDs or pen drives. Install an access management system to access the data. Utilize remote data backup service to stop data breaches.
9. Check the FINRA checklist: FINRA has set some rules and practices regarding cyber-security which is available on their website. You should ask your IT department to check their existing rules and regulations related to cybersecurity. FINRA is a very handy site to refer to for updates related to cybersecurity and data breach and it provides important information on how to get your data secured.
10. Patch Management: Your IT person will know more about this. This needs to be done comprehensively so that third-party applications are managed and upgraded effectively. This will help your IT department understand and determine which patches are appropriate.
11. Vulnerability assessments: This plays a pivotal role in protection against data breaches. Ideally, if your company is dealing with sensitive data then you should perform vulnerability scans every week. Organizations should perform the scans on every system on their network, both external and internal.
Data theft and hacking are a menace to the modern business environment. A data breach upsets the applecart and creates impediments to run your business properly. In this digital age, no one is immune and data hacking is an unfortunate reality. To minimize such incidents you can practice the simple ideas presented here and invest in the right solutions, educate employees, and comply with the rules. Stay safe, stay secure!