While there have been various advantages of digitalization, the increasing rate of data breaches and theft has been a cause of concern for many businesses. According to Statista, Yahoo had witnessed the biggest data breach in its history, when over 3 billion customer accounts were compromised.
Facebook, too faced immense criticism over its data protection and security measures when over 50 million accounts were compromised in 2019.
As the infrastructure of organizations gets more interconnected, the frequency of such breaches will increase. As per data collected by Juniper Research, the average cost of such violations will exceed $ 150 million.
Regardless of what business you are running, you must measure to ensure that your data cannot be compromised. Here are ways you can protect the sensitive data of your organization from data breach, loss or theft:
1. Have a data audit
Begin by having an assessment of all of your company data. It will allow you to get a holistic picture of your organization’s existing data protection measures.
You can hire an external auditor to assess the organization’s data security features and identify the threats. But why do you need to have a data audit of your company?
Well, every company is different from the other. They face different challenges and have varying types of data. For example, the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry faces stringent regulations and have the type of sensitive data about consumers that an e-commerce or textile company won’t.
Once you know the type of data you have and how you are protecting it, you can decide whether you need additional security measures or not. At the end of the audit, you might conclude that your data is secure enough, and hence the company doesn’t need to bear the additional cost of implementing advanced security features.
2. Restrict access internally
According to Varonis, over 53 percent of organizations have approximately 1000 sensitive files that are accessible across the board.
Your data is more susceptible to breach if many people have access to it. Why? Well, this is because this gives hackers more ways to try and access sensitive information.
As per the Data Breach Investigation Report, 34 percent of data theft is done by employees. It can be a result of malicious intent to harm the company or by a simple act of downloading a virus attached in an e-mail. Either way, it puts the sensitive data of your company under huge peril.
Just because you operate as one unit, doesn’t mean every employee needs to have access to everything. For instance, your operations manager doesn’t need details about your pricing strategy. Your marketing manager doesn’t need access to the complete profit-loss analysis report.
An effective means of preventing data theft is by restricting access to information internally. For instance, you can begin by adding passwords to all your documents and PDFs and give access only to relevant employees or the concerned department.
If you don’t know how to add or how to remove password from PDF file here’s how you can do it:
To add a password to a PDF file:
- Open your file in PDF reader installed in your system
- Choose File > Protect Using Password
- You can set the password either for Viewing or Editing
- Type and retype your password.
- Click Apply.
To remove a password from a PDF file,
- Open the PDF file in the PDF reader installed in your system
- Click the lock icon at the top left corner.
- Click Permission Details. You can also click File > Properties > Security tab
- Click Security Method box > No Security, and click OK
- Click File > Save. It will save your changes, and the password has been removed.
3. Keep an information inventory
There are various ways, in modern times, to store information. For instance, you can store it on laptops, tablets, smartphones, and flash drives. While it allows for immense convenience when it comes to accessing data, it also makes it easier for the same data to be stolen.
If your business demands that your company data must be accessed from multiple devices, then you can protect it by endpoint point encryption through Cisco Anyconnect. It is a tool that ensures endpoint access to keep your company data safe.
Another way to keep track of your data is by having an “information inventory.” It involves knowing where the company information has been stored and which parties have access to it. It helps in tracking down the liable person when it comes to data theft by employees.
A lost laptop or flash drive can create havoc in a company. Not to mention that it can be impossible to know what a given device had in store. At least it is impossible if you don’t prepare for it in advance.
4. Encrypt sensitive information and process data in-house
Whether it be e-mails or files, to prevent hackers from accessing sensitive content, you must encrypt your documents to make it safe for the company to share them with others online.
Every enterprise must have encryption on all its devices, whether it be removable media, mobile devices, or company laptops. It is a good practice to give company phones to employees so that the data shared on them can be monitored effectively.
Additionally, if the business model and operations of your company allow it, try to limit the transfer of sensitive information to a portable medium. It is especially necessary if you deal with personal customer information like medical data or social security numbers.
5. Use a strong password and activate two-factor authentication
As per DBIR, 80 percent of hacks are still linked with passwords. Weak passwords or passwords that are easy to guess, provide safe access to hackers into the company’s data.
So, to prevent it, you must create strong and secure passwords for all company and employee devices. Enable remote wipe on all of the devices. The former ensures that the data is hard to access in case a given device is lost. The latter allows for easy cleaning of data.
However, there is only so much protection a secure password can offer. Now, it is also essential to accompany it with “two-factor authentication.” With two-factor authentication, you have to give two sets of information to access any secured data. This service is offered by many platforms, including Google and Yahoo. This process can dramatically reduce data theft.
These five tips are just some ways to save your enterprise from a data breach. There are various other measures you can take. However, by implementing these five measures, you can get your basics covered. So, protect your company data by adopting the right tips and tools. Keep your data safe.