No business can afford to neglect their cybersecurity. Whether you run a small business or have a rapidly growing enterprise, protecting your own data and the data entrusted to you by your partners and clients should be one of your top priorities.
A data breach occurs when information is accessed or used without the owner’s permission. Because information about a person is considered personal and private, and because its use can cause emotional and financial harm, data breaches are looked upon as serious crimes. Perpetrators can use personal information to harass victims, steal identities, steal money, or commit any number of crimes.
As a business, it is your responsibility to protect any data that you store. This includes your own data as well as information about your customers and partners. Just as you would secure any physical files in locked cabinets and rooms, so any digital files and folders need to be properly safeguarded against misuse.
The digital age has made collecting and storing data easier than ever, but it has also made illegally accessing and stealing data from anywhere in the world a lot easier. Security companies work constantly to keep up with the growing demand for protection from hackers and scammers. You can’t afford to take cybersecurity lightly.
How do data breaches happen?
Information is worth a lot of money. It can be used for something simple like marketing or can be more harmful in the use of identity theft and bank fraud. Regardless of the type of data, thieves can make a lot of money from stealing information. There have also been cases of disgruntled employees taking revenge by leaking data to open companies up to lawsuits.
Some data breaches are accidental, such as sending an email with personal information to the wrong address, but a lot are malicious. Both of these can be dangerous and you need to watch out for any form of data breach.
Generally, data breaches happen when one of the following conditions is met: there are system weaknesses, there are user errors or weaknesses, there are not adequate guards over networks, there is a targeted attack. If we break these down further, you can see how each one takes advantage of weak spots.
System weaknesses are caused by outdated software or faulty software that fails to protect data. Because developments in hacking happen so quickly, you need to make sure your security software is up-to-date and able to properly protect your information from new tactics and bugs.
User errors can also be problematic. Unfortunately, people are likely to mess up – however, you need to put safeguards in place to stop human error from causing data leaks. Weak passwords are one of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to information. Despite this, most people still opt for simple, memorable, short passwords that they can recall easily. Unfortunately, hackers are usually great at figuring out simple, memorable, and short passwords.
Network insecurity is another big area of risk. Opening compromised websites, using external devices such as USB drives, or clicking on questionable links can all introduce software onto your computer. Often, this software will go undetected while it collects your data. Malware like this is often referred to as “drive-by downloading” because all it takes is for your slip up while using the network and “drive by” the wrong website.
Targeted Attacks are usually the most dangerous of all data breaches because the attackers are after specific information from a specific party. Hackers will use scams, phishing, or clever coding to gain access to information. Targeted attacks are often disguised to look like secure links or emails from trusted sources, or trustworthy websites. Having the right digital security training and software is vital in protecting against this kind of attack.
How can a company protect against a data breach?
With so much at stake, companies need to take every measure they can to ensure they are protected against data breaches. There are a lot of simple measures that can be put in place to offer protection, including training for staff and secure password requirements. More complex systems can also be used to protect data.
As already discussed, this is one of the easiest ways to protect against data breaches. Make sure there are requirements built into company systems for passwords to match certain criteria. Passwords that don’t have repeat or consecutive characters, that contain at least 12 letters, and that use uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols are going to be the strongest passwords. This is a basic level of protection, but it is incredibly strong.
Two factor authentication is also useful (when a second device or app receives additional information like a code that you then enter into the original device or app). This ensures that even if a password has been hacked, the attacker would need the second device or app permissions as well.
A lot of software comes with encryption abilities now. Encryption allows the recipient to read the intended message but prevents anyone else from being able to see it. Make sure you use encryption software if you ever need to send information.
Storage software should also use encryption so that if someone manages to break into the stored data, the data would still be unusable for them.
Because you will have employees working with client and partner data, it is vital that they have the correct training on properly handling data. Proper training will include information on:
– What is classified as personal identifiable information
– What information you should gather
– What information you are not allowed to have
– How to safely store data
– How to safely remove or delete data
– How to safely transfer data
– How to set up a secure password
– What red flags to look out for on websites or emails that could indicate dangerous activity
– What to do if there is a suspected data breach
Invest in good quality, trustworthy antivirus, antimalware, and firewall software. The right software will detect any threats to your system security and block websites that are historically dangerous or have any questionable code.
Security software is often developed with special features in place for different business or individual requirements. Doing your research beforehand and finding the right software for the kind of work you do could end up saving you a lot of time and stress.
The other advantage of getting good software is that software developers will be working on updates constantly. Provided you keep your software updated, new patches and technology will be used constantly in protecting your data.
Hire an expert
Your business needs you to be focusing on the industry and on business growth and health. Tech security is a niche area of expertise and learning as much as you can will only be able to get you so far. If you are serious about improving your cybersecurity, then one of the best things you can do is hire a cybersecurity specialist.
Specialists will be able to easily identify areas of weakness, provide advice on staying protected, and advice on and install software that your business might need.
Make sure that you do your research before hiring an expert. You will want someone with demonstrable results who comes with good recommendations. After all, they will be handling all of your data as well.