June 15, 2022

How to Avoid a Company Data Breach

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard of data breaches happening across industries and organizations of every size. However, what exactly can a data breach do to affect your organization and your bottom line? With the average cost of a data breach being $8.64 million in the U.S., detection should be high on your priorities. Let’s discuss why and how your organization can and should protect yourself against a data breach.

What is a Data Breach?

While the phrase “data breach” gets thrown around, a majority of the people talking about data breaches have an understanding of what they are and how they work. So, before we can discuss how to avoid a data breach, we first need to define what they are and how they can affect your operations.

Simply put, a data breach is a broad term that refers to the movement or transfer of confidential, private, protected, or sensitive information from a trusted environment to an unauthorized individual. This can happen accidentally, like an employee sending a file to an external location they shouldn’t have, or it could be intentional, as is the case with for-profit threat actors or hacktivists. With the latter, the goal could be to steal anything from credit card information to a few internal emails and depends entirely on the type of business you’re in and the threat actor that’s performing the attack.

How to Protect Your Data

No matter how, data breaches can come from any source and in any form, so your best practice is to be diligently proactive in protecting your system. To help you, we’ve detailed a few of the best ways to secure your system and what to do to adapt to the changing landscape of data security.

Restrict Who Can Access Your Data

With each additional person you grant access to your data, you create another vulnerability. A network with thousands of users will have a much higher risk and more vulnerabilities than a smaller network. In order to best protect your resources you should limit the amount of sensitive stored information and follow the least privilege principle.

Improve Your Security Overall

While it may seem obvious, the general security of your system plays a huge factor in the protection of your data. Each system is filled with their own intricacies and protocols, so we can’t say exactly what your system needs to improve here. However, employing more thorough traffic monitoring, better architecture and firewalls, and requiring those who can access your system to use VPNs are a few of the techniques that can help you on this point.

Train & Retrain Your Employees Often

In data security, human error is one of, if not the biggest factor that leads to data breaches. One mis-click or misunderstanding of a process can compromise your system and let threat actors in. Your best way to mitigate these instances is to train all your employees–not just those in IT–the best security practices to follow and what threats to look out for (i.e., phishing emails). Also establish a set hierarchy and strict protocols that are clearly communicated to your team. With this, everyone will know who is responsible for what and the processes they’re expected to follow.

How to Ensure You’re Adapting Correctly

Now that you have your controls in place and your team knows what to do in both proactive and reactive situations, you can create strategies around adapting to change. Every day, businesses hire new people, use new systems and technology, and see threat actors use new techniques, so having the flexibility to change your processes and implement new protocols will help you protect your data well into the future.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

While certain systems may have gained popularity in certain industries, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be a good fit for you. Additionally, it’s important to remember that just because a software or provider says they have the product that can cater to everyone, doesn’t mean that it will work in your case. You have a unique operation that needs a system that covers your particular high-risk areas and proactively works against your vulnerabilities, not the general vulnerabilities of an entire industry.

Create an Audit Schedule & Stick to It

One of the best ways to proactively prevent a data breach is to frequently audit your system. This audit should include a general audit of your processes, as well as a vulnerability scan and risk assessment, to make sure you have a clear picture of whether or not your current way of doing things is working. These audits can be as infrequent as once a month or as often as multiple times each week; the important thing is to establish this schedule and stick to it. That way, your team can maintain a proactive approach to data breaches and adapt prevention efforts.

As scary as a data breach may sound, having your protocols, training, and flexibility to adapt in place can not only help you prevent one, but also create a more security-focused environment among your team. To learn more about tools that can help you protect your data, contact us for information about the resources available to you. 

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