Today, a data breach can be a business’s worst nightmare. The average cost of a data breach even for small businesses is $3.92 million. Incidents have become all too common, especially in healthcare, manufacturing, and finance, as sensitive data from these industries have become appealing targets for cybercriminals.
Data breaches have many causes — network misconfigurations, phishing scams, and ransomware, to name a few. To mitigate risks and protect your data, employ these essential tactics in data security.
Have a single platform for your data
Access your business data from as few trusted platforms as possible. This will reduce points of vulnerability so you will have less to manage and secure.
To this end, it’s ideal to find one solution that can combine many functions that handle your company’s sensitive data, from email and contact information to credit card numbers and health data. For instance, a file sharing platform may have built-in services for shared communication, shared calendars, project management, online editing, collaboration, and more. Office 365 is one such solution, with its multiple business collaboration and productivity applications, and even the unified communications of modern VoIP.
However, it is not enough that a comprehensive tool consolidates various applications. The platform has to be secure. Some security measures to look into are hosting this platform on a virtual private server with a single (SSL) certificate. Another measure to always consider is encryption. If the platform encrypts your data, any information on it becomes unreadable to an unauthorized user. Even if data falls into the wrong hands, it will be unintelligible.
Secure your data in the cloud
When it comes to security, you can look at storing data in the cloud like storing it in an on-premises data center. In both cases, you have to take responsibility for data security. Your cloud vendor can only secure the underlying structure for your data; you have to do the rest.
Cloud security is a shared responsibility. And since most cloud-based data breaches happen because of weak configurations, the strength and the weakness of the security of your data in the cloud will depend on the configurations and access policies you implement. Don’t be scared of the cloud. It has outstanding advantages to offer your business if you apply best practices like strong configurations and the principle of least privilege (POLP).
Control and limit access
Speaking of POLP, access controls or restrictions are a very fundamental component of data security. To best apply restrictions on data, limit access only to people who need that data to accomplish their job. On top of that, implement strong password policies and multifactor authentication (MFA) to further strengthen those restrictions. Lastly, you can adopt artificial intelligence (AI) software to monitor your network and systems and look out for persons trying to gain access to restricted data.
Train your employees
Email scams take advantage of human error, which is also one of the top causes of data breaches. These scams, known as phishing, can be mitigated if all employees are trained to identify them. As cybercriminal attacks such as phishing evolve and become more sophisticated, employees need to be updated on these tactics.
They also have to constantly practice basic security habits. These include never opening email attachments from unknown sources or clicking on links in email unless they are validated.
Use a virtual private network (VPN)
For many companies, the internet is an integral part of daily operations. So apart from firewalls, anti-malware, and security training, a VPN is another security layer to consider. This is to protect your organization’s network from websites that collect your employees’ personal data and analyze their IP addresses.
With a VPN, this data is encrypted and rendered useless to the websites your employees visit. It will also keep your IP address hidden, making it harder to reveal your and your employees’ identities.
Perform risk assessments
A crucial part of any data security strategy is the assessment of potential risks and threats to your systems and networks. This includes an assessment of data vital to business processes — where data are located and what security measures are already in place to protect them. One of the goals of an assessment is to uncover security gaps and devise plans to solve them.
Create a data backup and disaster recovery plan
Because of data breaches and malware, businesses nowadays cannot do without a data backup and disaster recovery plan. These two measures work together to prevent any business-critical data loss by regularly backing up your data. This can be quickly restored to the latest copy of your data so that your business can resume operations quickly, experiencing as little downtime as possible.
Seek managed services
Pay attention to the news these days and you will notice that data breaches are the big stories. Facebook, Capital One, Equifax, and other large enterprises have all fallen prey to cyberattacks. Even small businesses make big targets, as findings show that 43% of cyberattacks focus on them.
These findings reveal that a managed services provider (MSP) is a cost-effective option for small businesses to access a pool of IT specialists, various cutting-edge security solutions, and 24/7 monitoring for their network.
A qualified MSP like SpectrumWise partners with clients to devise a customized technology roadmap, including data security. With years of experience in IT security, we are well-acquainted with the unique IT needs of multiple industries. Contact our experts to find out for yourself.