The Cyber Incident & Breach Trends Report estimates that there were 159,700 cyber-attack incidents in 2017. Out of these breaches, 93 percent were preventable.
Insufficient data security has caused huge losses to various household organizations. A recent CNBC report estimates that cybercrime costs the world around $600 billion.
Data security involves protecting information using hardware and software technologies. Some of the tools that enhance information security are encryption, antivirus, firewalls, software updates and patches, and two-factor authentication.
Keep on reading to learn more!
Importance of Data Security
Most people think that information security threats are issues for big organizations. That’s a misconception. Your personal computer or mobile device is a possible target for hackers.
Cybercriminals usually target sensitive information such as bank details, credit card information, and passwords.
Data security should be comprehensive for everyone. As networks and access to the internet improve, data breaches will continue to increase. Attacks are becoming smarter making prevention and detection harder each day.
You can be a victim of cyber-attack in several ways. Some of the tactics popular with hackers are phishing, ransomware attacks, malware attacks, and so on.
Causes of Data Security Threats
The following are the primary ways through which data breaches happen.
A significant number of information security breaches occur through external invasion. The perpetrator gains illegal access to the system from outside.
In most cases, external intrusions happen when an unauthorized person steals someone’s credentials. It may also result from hacking devices in a network or exploiting loopholes in the security of a system.
About third of data breaches result from actions of employees, whether intentional or accidental. For instance, an imposter can trick an employee into sharing their usernames and passwords.
Companies can prevent such situations by educating the workers about phishing. Insiders can also be a threat to data security if they are discontented or have financial problems.
Fraud and Social Engineering
Another widespread method of gaining unauthorized access to systems is social engineering. It involves deceiving a person to reveal their credentials and using them to access a system.
It’s hard to capture such activity in real time, but organizations can use two-factor identification for protection. They can also train their employees on how social engineering works.
Lost or Stolen Devices
A data security breach can also occur through unlawful access to information stored in lost or stolen devices and documents. Such incidents can be accidental or planned.
Stealing a mobile device is easier than hacking a database. As long as workers are free to move around with office laptops and smartphones, organizations will always be at risk.
Best Practices for Data Security
Data protection necessitates technology backed with strong preventative measures. Although there are effective information security methods, the following strategies can leverage your technology.
Keep Your System Up to Date
People tend to get annoyed by pop-ups, but they convey essential information at times. They are crucial in informing users when to update their software applications.
Hackers exploit weaknesses in operating systems to gain access. Whenever an operating system releases a patch, it’s important to update it.
Patches can keep hacking activity at bay. However, companies with extensive networks sometimes face challenges in managing all their computers.
Know the Scale of Your Data
The first step towards building a data security strategy is establishing the amount of data you have. You also need to monitor where you store it and who is responsible for it. You can ensure that your information security measures address all data assets by keeping a data asset log.
Train Your Employees
The general data protection regulation (GDPR) revolves around data privacy and security. Your staff should understand its importance.
Human error accounts for most of the mistakes that cause information breach. For instance, the loss of a storage device containing critical information about a business can ruin its reputation. It can even lead to severe penalties in some circumstances.
Organizations should invest in staff training for employees who handle information. They should understand the importance of managing it securely.
Learn more about GDPR compliance here.
Embrace Data Encryption
Data encryption is an ideal way to keep sensitive information secure. Even if hackers gain access to encrypted data, it may not be of any use to them.
Organizations should install encryption at all levels. For instance, e-commerce businesses should use encrypted card readers and encrypt sensitive emails.
Reduce the Number of Employees Handling Sensitive Information
Employees are the first suspects of data breaches. It’s essential to maintain controls of who access data and what they can do with it. Restrict the access privileges to only what an employee needs.
With digital watermarking, you can prevent malicious data theft by workers and identify the source of data breaches if they happen. The technique works by enabling you the add seeds (tracking records) to your database to allow you to monitor how people use data.
You can keep track of your information even after it leaves your organization’s direct control. Data watermarking is useful with emails, telephone calls, and physical mail.
Reduce the Number of Devices
Modern homes have smartphones, tablets, televisions, and laptops connected to the internet. Having several devices gives hackers many openings for launching attacks.
The situation is worse in business organizations. Some businesses cannot account for the number of computers they own. If you are unsure of how many digital devices are in your network, the chances are that you haven’t protected all of them.
Many cyber-attacks occur when a hacker discovers a vulnerable device that is not supposed to be in a network. Such openings are channels for intruders to gain unauthorized access to information.
Undertake a Data Risk Assessment
You should carry out periodical risk assessments to define potential threats to your business’s information. The process should review all identifiable threats ranging from online attacks to physical issues like securing the server room.
A risk assessment enables you to identify all vulnerabilities in the current security system. From there, you can develop a strategy for dealing with weak points and ensure your business growth and security.
Install a Reliable Antivirus
Using a virus and malware protection software is one of the most dependable and straightforward methods of safeguarding your data. It can minimize the risk of information theft by malicious software.
An antivirus can prevent data from falling into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, no software can guarantee you absolute data security, but some are better than others. Selecting a robust security solution can deter most of the cyber-attack attempts.
Transact with Secure Vendors
Any outsider who can access the network of a business is a threat. For this reason, organizations should confirm that their vendors maintain high levels of information security.
Back Up Important Data Regularly
Most people overlook backing up their data, and they suffer from severe damages when loss of data occurs. Continuity of access to information is an essential dimension of data security.
The time and effort required to reconstitute data can be enormous. Business interruption due to data loss can also be costly for your organization. Therefore, back up your information at an acceptable frequency to keep it affordable.
Backing up is not enough. The security of the backups is as vital as protecting other organization’s information.
How Individuals Can Protect Themselves
Users of computer systems can take several measures to avoid becoming victims of cyber-attacks. Here are a few tips.
- Do not open spam or suspicious email
- Verify links before opening attachments
- Never accept ridiculously cheap offers
- Use antivirus and antimalware applications
- Don’t use bogus security software
- Avoid pirated software and apps
- Don’t share your credentials or sensitive information
- Use two-factor authentication
- Confirm that websites are secure (HTTPS) before inputting your data
These points may sound obvious, but a small mistake like making a payment on an unsecured site can expose you to fraudsters. You must be vigilant when interacting with your system to avoid revealing important information.
Types of Data Security Strategies
Data security technologies come in many forms. Organizations must strive to protect information from intruders and malicious employees alike. Here are some ways of securing data.
This technique applies a code that changes the state of data. You must use a specific key to decrypt it to an intelligible form.
Masking some parts of data can prevent attackers or employees from making use of it. For instance, covering some digits of a credit card makes it hard for fraudsters to steal from credit card owners.
By creating backup copies, organizations can recover data if it gets corrupted or erased during a breach. Backing up should be a regular practice in an organization.
At times, you need to delete records that are no longer valid or useful to your business. For example, when clients request you to remove them from your mailing list.
Today, companies gather and process vast amounts of information. The IT department develops strategies that seal data security threats and vulnerabilities.
A small loophole can compromise the entire system. You should implement the methods discussed in this article to avert possible cyber-attacks. Employee training is critical in creating awareness about the dangers of irresponsible behavior when handling data.
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