In today's modern world, data breaches are ever-growing threats that can affect businesses in just about every industry. To keep your company's proprietary information, as well as your customers' sensitive financial data secure, you must implement policies and procedures to protect that data. Here's what you need to do.
Conduct a Thorough System Audit
You can't protect against data breaches if you don't know where your security vulnerabilities lie. An IT security audit will give you a better sense of the areas you need to give more attention to in creating future security measures. This audit should look for any ways that data thieves, both internal and external, could gain access to your company's systems and the data they contain. At the end of the audit, you should have a detailed outline of what you need to do next to secure your systems.
Protect Against Malware and Viruses
Firewalls are your first line of defense against malware, but they are not enough to stop all of today's digital threats. In addition to basic firewalls, you'll also need robust virus protection software on every computer in your organization to stop these malicious files before they infect your machines, possibly spreading throughout your network. Email spam filters are necessities as well, as many viruses come in the form of email attachments.
Provide Training for Your Employees
In many cases, data breaches happen because unsuspecting employees inadvertently give hackers access. Most of the time, this is unintentional, and it is also preventable. Your business must require your team members to go through data security training as part of the employee onboarding process. This demonstrates to them that your organization takes data security seriously and that they should as well. Even long-term employees should go through this training, and your staff should repeat the training periodically to ensure they understand how to protect against the latest threats.
Secure Mobile Devices
Many of your employees likely utilize their smartphones or tablets to assist with their work, and if your organization does not provide company devices, this can be a significant security risk. If your team is using their own devices, you need to have a BYOD policy in place. This can require your employees to install specific software or applications on their devices to enhance security. You'll also need to provide technical support to help employees with installation, updates, and other necessary tasks to ensure their devices stay as secure as possible.
Encrypt All of Your Data
While it may be tempting only to encrypt sensitive data, it is good practice to encrypt everything. If hackers identify that they can gain access to some of your unencrypted data, they'll be encouraged to keep trying to break into your more secure files. By encrypting everything, you'll show possible data thieves that you are doing everything in your power to keep them out, possibly discouraging them from attempting to hack your organization and leading them to move on to an easier target.
Manage Passwords Carefully
Even with the growing threat of data breaches, many people still don't create passwords that are anywhere near secure enough to stop hackers. It is crucial that your business institute strict password protocols for your employees. Passwords should be complex so that they are not easy to guess, including both capital and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols. You should also require your team to change their passwords at least every six months to minimize risk.
When it comes to your organization's sensitive data, the only people who should have access to it are the ones who genuinely need it. In most cases, this will mean only those at the highest levels of your company or those in specific departments that use the data. General employees should not have any more access than they truly need. By restricting the number of people who are allowed to access secure data, you'll reduce the number of possible vulnerabilities, making it much more difficult for hackers to gain access using low-level employee credentials.
Maintain Constant Vigilance
With data security, it is not enough to set up security protocols and hope for the best. Defending against data breaches is a constant battle as hackers and thieves continue to grow more and more sophisticated. To keep up, your security measures need to become more sophisticated as well. New threats are revealed with each passing day, so you need to update your security efforts to stay ahead of them continually. While all of this may seem a bit overwhelming at first, there is no need to worry. As long as you create a step-by-step plan to improve your company's data security and commit to following it, your organization can keep its data as secure as possible.
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