No organisation is safe from cybercrimes. Cybercriminals continue targeting high-profile businesses worldwide, and your organisation isn’t an exception. According to Data Protnet statics, 70% of small businesses are unprepared for cyber-attacks. Also, 88% of professional hackers can infiltrate an organisation within 12 hours.
To avoid falling victim, taking the necessary steps to protect the data is vital. This article expounds on how you can plan and test your data safety. It covers the best practices on how to achieve this.
What is data safety, and why is it important
Data safety entails protecting corporate data and preventing data loss through unauthorised access. It’s the set of procedures and policies safeguarding important information. It includes protection from anything that can destroy or encrypt data, like ransomware or other attacks that corrupt and modifies the data.
Data security combines processes and tools and aims to protect a company’s sensitive assets, whether the data is at rest or in transit. Once you put the measures in place, you need to conduct security testing to identify and resolve threats posing a danger to your data.
Regulations by the government and the industry make it clear that companies must achieve and maintain compliance with data security. Data is a valuable asset. Protecting it from internal or external illegal access is saving the company from the following:
- Reputational harm
- Consumer trust degradation. Years after a breach, your organisation could still suffer from the effects of data mistakes. You can suffer Brand erosion.
- Financial loss. With the company’s reputation at stake, you may have to pay for auditing services, legal fines, and fees, repay customers and deal with other financial losses.
Eight ways to improve data safety
To plan, test and protect your data, here are some of the best practices you can implement:
1. Abide by data regulations
The industry regulation has put down strict guidelines on how to collect, secure, or share sensitive data properly. If you fail to comply with the law governing data protection within your industry, you will likely pay hefty fines.
Different regulations and compliance standards like HIPAA, WCAG, PCI, and GDPR. For protected health information, you need to comply with HIPAA. You must comply with PCI requirements when dealing with credit information.
More often than not, you need to conduct DPIA (data protection impact assessment). The audit is necessary to identify, analyse and minimise privacy risks associated with collecting, sharing, and storing a user’s data. It’s a key component in complying with GDPR.
Failing to comply with industry standards can ruin the reputation of your business among investors, industry leaders, lenders, and insurance companies. A negative image can result in inflated insurance premiums and inflated loan rates.
Use software that comprehends compliance needs to ensure your organisation complies with the industry standard. It adds a layer of protection. You also automatically understand what your provider wants.
Since the regulations keep changing, the software updates the necessary information, regularly removing a huge burden from your side.
2. Invest in cyber security
According to ESG- ISSA July 2021 report, 57% of organisations have a cybersecurity shortage. Investing in cybersecurity is an excellent way of not compromising your security. An increase in mobile usage increases the exposure of your company to attacks. Invest by onboarding chief security officers who have knowledge of IT and cybersecurity.
Allocating a budget for cybersecurity equips the company with a strong defence that protects the customers and the employees against phishing and ransomware attacks, keeping your confidential data secure.
Here are other advantages of investing in cybersecurity
- Get to boost trust among customers, clients, and investors
- It saves you millions of dollars by minimising attacks on your firm
- Decreases the risk of spyware or ransomware and adware
- Allows secure file sharing
3. Conduct regular system checks
Conducting regular security assessments allows you to identify any critical weaknesses that might exist in your cybersecurity protection. You discover loopholes to identify unhidden vulnerabilities in the security system.
Regular assessments identify unpatched systems, and the cybersecurity team can update the software in the process, increasing security.
4. Restrict network access to authorised websites and people
Human beings are prone to errors. Even after training your employees on data security, they can cause harm unknowingly. Human errors are one of the most common causes of compliance failures and breaches.
It’s essential to avoid compliance risk by restricting only to authorised websites and people. Give access to the right people when it comes to sensitive data. Also, there needs to be a person who monitors the access.
Employees need only access to the data that directly affects their jobs. The fewer employees with access to sensitive data, the lower the chances of being at risk.
5. Have password guidelines
You need to create strong passwords to strengthen the security of your site. It’s easy for hackers to crack simple, easy-to-hack, and generic passwords putting your critical accounts at risk. Using the same password for multiple accounts puts you at risk of being attacked. Use complex passwords that are reasonable, and be sure to change them after every 90 days.
You don’t want to put passwords that anyone can guess. Implement best security practices to be on the safe side. Don’t use passwords like qwerty or 1234.
Here are some of the ways you can train your employees on matters of passwords:
- A password needs to be at least eight characters long. The longer it is, the harder it is to crack.
- Use both upper- and lower-case letters. You can include numbers.
- Incorporate at least one character that isn’t in the alphabet, like $, & and @
- Don’t place any personal info like a year of birth, home address, or birthday.
- The password hasn’t been used anywhere.
- Also, you can use two-factor password authentication for better security.
- Never write down your passwords and leave them on your workstation, as hackers can easily access the information.
6. Have a compliance team on site for internal risks
More often, you will think that threats would be outside your organisation. Nonetheless, your internal team also poses the biggest threat to your data. These threats can come from current employees, former employees, contractors, and partners who have access or previously had access to the company data.
An employee can click an email attachment believing it comes from a trusted source, only for them to release a ransomware worm. According to security intelligence, 60% of data breaches are caused by internal threats. Inside attacks are often hard to detect and prevent due to their nature.
Most times, data breaches cost by internal risks are quite expensive to rectify than those from external forces.
Your organisation limits internal risks by:
- Evaluating security policies
- Examining previous insider threats
- Conducting frequent cyber awareness training
- Screen new hires.
7.Encrypt work devices to protect data
Protecting sensitive customer data from unauthorised access lies solely on an organisation as of data privacy legal guidelines. You must ensure compliance when collecting and storing data.
Your employees can likely opt to work on their mobile or personal devices. That said, you aren’t sure if these devices can be trusted. Storing data in an encrypted format is crucial; even during migrations, they remain encrypted. You need to protect passwords and antimalware software by encrypting this data.
8. Regularly update software
Your computer must be updated often to ensure that it’s adequately protected. Hackers can find a loophole in software that isn’t updated using ransomware strains. You can ensure you don’t miss any updates by enabling auto-updates on your software packages or operating system.
Additionally, have a centralised security update policy to ensure that no computers can be linked to different cybercrimes.
The Four elements of data security
Protection is more of a physical barrier. It’s the walls that separate your data from other outside sources. It’s the first line of defence against the trespass of your data, and it deters criminals from attempting to access your data.
Detection alerts you of any intruders who have tried accessing your data by tampering with physical data.
Verification is more like CCTV. Although it doesn’t detect intruders by itself, you can connect it with a perimeter intrusion detection system to assess the level of damage an intruder poses to your site.
The reaction is what you decide to do after detecting an intruder. It could be calling the police or alerting security to patrol your site. The patrol team would assess the aim of the intruder by looking at the detection and verification elements. You can then decide on measures to protect your data.
Data safety is essential as you are a hacker’s target, whether a small or large organisation.
You need to protect your data from any intruders. It doesn’t matter whether they are intruders from outside or inside your organisation. You reduce the chances of being attacked with the right data safety measures. Amidst protecting yourself, remember to comply with the data regulations.
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