Data is one of the most valuable resources available to businesses today, making it just as valuable to hackers and those with malicious intent. The consequences of not protecting your data are far-reaching, going well beyond the loss of your money or your business. For example, enterprises doing business in the EU are expected to operate under the umbrella of the GDPR, a set of data privacy standards which carry heavy fines when a company is found to have breached them. It’s important for clients and staff to know that their digital information and all company data is protected, yet available when needed. Let’s drill-down and explore a few security best practices businesses are using to protect their data.

Conduct a security audit

Not all software is created equal. Most commonly used software, even the most well-known email platforms, are continuously updated with “patches,” to fix any areas of vulnerability within the software code that might allow hackers to infiltrate the network from outside. Conducting security audits of your network and data protection capabilities regularly, is important to maintaining a totally secure business network and data.

Have Security Policies

Security policies are elements of your network security solution, which allow you to automatically allow or deny certain types of users, based on certain criteria. Setting the correct security policies will allow your IT administrators to focus on daily, business-critical tasks, leaving in-depth security monitoring to your pre-set security policies. It’s also critical to update your system regularly, to ensure security policies are impenetrable, and recognize the latest and most dangerous types of malicious digital traffic in your network environment.

Educate your staff on the role they play in security

It’s important to promote an environment of behaviour based safety, by educating your employees on the risk of infecting the network with malware, by clicking on phishing email links or visiting insure websites, using their work PC or laptop. According to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 43% of breaches involved phishing emails or a variant, like pretexting.

Encrypt your data

Data is the new oil, making it the hacker holy grail. If your critical data is sitting unprotected and unencrypted, it is easier for cyber criminals to use it to extort money from you, or it could even be stolen and sold on the dark web. Employees with personal devices or USB thumb drives could easily lose the devices, or have them stolen, resulting in the loss of valuable information. Ensure that your data security solution provides encryption for all data, both at rest, and in transit.

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Create a plan for personal devices

Bring your own device, or BYOD, has become commonplace in the workplace, making it vital that you protect your network from mobile and personal devices. Hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. A device known as a “pineapple” can be used in a public area, like a coffee shop, to infiltrate all internet connections and steal log-in credentials and information from any computer connected to the network. Create a security plan and policies to manage any device connected to your network, to ensure cyber-criminals can’t easily gain access using a personal device.

Conduct background checks

61% of enterprises have experienced insider attacks in the past year, meaning more potential cyber criminals are seeking positions within the companies they hope to target. It’s important to run background checks on new employees before hiring, to ensure you aren’t inviting in a thief who might bankrupt your company. 

Use the cloud

Cloud deployment is now vital to the success of any company, especially with the recent pandemic, which forced many people to work from home. Using the right cloud solution, with built-in security and encryption, to store and access company information, will keep your data safe from attackers hoping to disrupt your connection and steal your data in transit.

Dispose of data properly

Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of valuable data are created daily, but storing this much data indefinitely is unnecessary. Once data has been analysed and parsed, it’s important to clear hard drive space for the next batch of incoming data. Data that isn’t disposed of properly and completely, can easily be stolen by cyber criminals, hoping for a quick payday.

A data breach, like what we just saw with Colonial Oil, can shut down your network, empty your bank accounts, and cause you to lose status and trust with your customers. Data protection is not a situation where you can beg for forgiveness if a mistake is made. Implement these data security tips today, to ensure your network is a safe place for staff, customers and future customers.