10 Best Practices To Ensure Data Breach Prevention
As a business owner, facing a data breach is most probably your worst nightmare. Data breaches call for long investigations, network barricades, and tremendous costs. The best way you can avoid this mess is by preventing it altogether.
While you cannot eradicate the possibility of an IT hack completely, you can surely take some precautionary steps to minimize your chances of dealing with a data breach. This article will discuss some of the best practices to ensure data breach prevention.
Preventing data breaches entails a number of security layers that include physical measures, technological controls, and administrative roles. Here is a round-up of the best practices you can adapt to ensure your data is never in the wrong hands:
Establish a Strong Incident Response Plan (IRP)
An Incident Response Plan or IRP is a written document that instructs the employees on how to detect, respond to, and recover from a cybersecurity threat. These sets of tools and procedures can help your IT team by reducing the time it takes to identify a security breach and tackle it effectively.
The six phases of an IRP can work as a guide for your employees in case of an unpleasant incident and would give them a tried and tested way out of this ordeal. If you have a strong IRP in place, it can reduce your compliance fines and recovery costs dramatically.
One of the most important components of an IRP is to have a constant backup of the company’s data so that business operations can bounce back as soon as possible. Another step that can strengthen your response plan is training your employees regularly so that they are quick to jump to action when needed.
Limit Access to Sensitive Information
The best way to keep information from leaking is if it is kept to a minimum number of people. Privileged access can reduce the number of suspects in case of a data breach. Establish and reinforce strict policies around elevated levels of access and keep a regular oversight.
Privileged Access Management (PAM) is an information security tool that consists of cybersecurity strategies and technologies to exert control over privileged access to important data. It can protect organizations against cyber threats by monitoring, detecting, and preventing unauthorized access to critical information.
Secure The Network Perimeter
The first line of defense an organization has in case of external cybersecurity threats is network perimeter security. This entails a series of network designing which includes:
- Applying and maintaining stringent firewall settings
- Using intrusion prevention and intrusion detection systems
- Enforcing VPN for remote access
- Authenticating all users access and using access control lists
- Encryption-in-transit and for data-at-rest
This allows business data to freely flow within the organization but halts any attempts to cross the barricade from external entities.
Establish Patch Management
Patch management is a process of applying changes to the computer programs or its supporting data by identifying, testing, deploying, and installing software patches. It can protect your organization against vulnerabilities so that viruses, hackers, and other bugs cannot penetrate the infrastructure.
Unpatched software can easily give access to potential hackers and cause a catastrophic breach of critical data so patching of networks should be the top priority for your company.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
Getting hold of your credentials should not be the only thing that stands between you and your data. Implementing multi-factor authentication ensures that even if an attacker has access to your credentials, they have to jump through more complicated hoops in order to get to your data.
Multi-factor authentication can range from simple security questions to specific biometric data that nobody can replicate. It provides other levels of protection to keep your data secure from both internal and external threats.
Implement Endpoint Security Controls
Endpoint security controls can defend the endpoints in the networking infrastructure such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices from cybersecurity threats. Protecting these endpoints is essential because every device that an employee connects to the business networks is a potential doorway for malicious threats to come through.
These endpoints proliferate which makes it harder to protect them from cyber criminals who can exploit these devices to steal corporate data. Malware detection software continuously detects such threats and notifies the organization immediately.
Have a Strong Password Policy
One of the most common reasons behind a data breach is weak password policies. Instruct your employees to regularly change their passwords so that even if their credentials are stolen, the attacker will not have indefinite access to the company’s data.
A strong password should:
- Be of a medium length
- Contain multiple lower-case and upper-case letters
- Contain special characters and numerical digits
- Have a maximum number of password attempts before the account is locked
Discourage your employees from using a password that is related to them in any way since it is easy to figure out and can compromise their account.
Use Data Classification Tools
When forming a cybersecurity strategy, it is crucial to know where your most sensitive data is and why it is important to keep it secure. Data classification tools can help you find your high-end data within the plethora of files, tag it, and classify it according to the risk it faces.
These tools can also mention if there are any compliance regulations you need to adhere to with respect to that particular data and if there is anybody you need to inform in case it is compromised.
Classifying your most valuable data can help you keep a close eye on it and allow you to access it within seconds.
Conduct Vulnerability Assessments
After you have applied and implemented all the security measures, the next step is to test these barricades. Data security is not a one-time job. You need to constantly assess the security of your systems to ensure that they are still strong.
Vulnerability assessments include scanning systems, networks, and applications to identify any weaknesses in the IT infrastructure, evaluating potential risks, and taking the best measures to eradicate these risks. Fix any outdated software, misconfigurations, weak access controls, weak passwords, and unpatched networks.
Conduct Penetration Testing
Penetration testing is an excellent exercise that can keep your employees sharp and trained to combat any cybersecurity attacks by preparing them through simulation. Simulating real-world attacks will test the efficiency of the existing security controls.
Using the results from both vulnerability assessments and penetration testing can assist you in improving your network security by fortifying your defenses against potential threats.
Preventing data breaches requires a lot of tools and strategies but taking all these measures is easier than recovering your data, reputation, and finances if a cybersecurity attack on your company is successful. Hire cybersecurity services now to protect your company against malicious threats and keep your data secure.
- Who should I inform if my company’s data has been breached?
Notify law enforcement, affected businesses, shareholders, and other affected individuals immediately.
- How much does it cost to recover from a data breach?
According to IBM, a single data breach costs around $4.24 million on average in the year 2021. As an estimate, the cost must be much higher now.
- What are the consequences of a data breach?
The results of a data breach can vary according to severity. Some of the dire repercussions include:
- Destruction or corruption of databases
- Erosion of trust from clients and shareholders
- Financial loss
- Disturbance of business operations
- Legal and compliance issues
- Identity theft and breach of individual privacy