Data is the key to business growth in the present era. Other than using it to extract valuable insights and data analytics, the data demands enhanced and sophisticated security measures. With every passing year, the scale and potential of cyber-attacks and the events of data breaches are increasing aggressively. The present security strategies to keep business data secure are failing to cope up with the advanced tactics adopted by cybercriminals to breach through firewalls.
The growing data security concerns have urged businesses to rethink their security measures, as failing to do so cost severe financial and reputational damages. This blog lists down 5 security practices that can minimize the chances of data loss or breach significantly.
5 Ways to Keep Business Data Secure
- Data Access Control
Data access control is considered the mandatory data security practice that if implemented rightfully can reduce the chances of data leakage significantly. It allows businesses to have robust access management where they can view who is accessing data, what is being accessed when it is being accessed, and any unauthorized access attempts. Since ransomware, malware, and similar other attacks are growing aggressively, a well-established access controls system can minimize damages from such attacks greatly.
- Data Encryption
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the scale of cyber-attacks grew exponentially because employees started working from homes where the networks were not as secure as workplace networks. So, accessing sensitive business data from insecure networks via unpatched home computers or mobile devices just triggered the vulnerability chances greatly.
One effective way of protecting data, in this case, is to practice data encryption where the data is encrypted while being transmitted and only the authorized users have the encryption keys or tools to decrypt and access the data. But not all data needs encryption. So, you first have to dig out what data is sensitive for your business and then implement the encryption data tactics on that dataset. This way, even if attackers get access to the data, it would be of no use to them.
- Data Masking
To keep sensitive business information secure, another recommended way is to do data masking. Data masking implies that you create a fake but original-looking version of your sensitive data. This way you ensure data remains protected, while its functional alternative version can be used in processes and technology testing, sales demos, etc. Data masking can be done by altering the data, such as character substitution, work shuffling, encryption, and similar other tactics. In terms of security threats, data masking reduces many threats to data, such as insider threats, data loss, account compromise, etc.
- Strong Password Policy & Multi-Factor Authentication
Many businesses don’t pay attention to practising a strong password policy. This gives employees a free environment to set up a simple and weak password. For example, passwords like “abc12345“, “admin12“, and similar others. Weak passwords mean attackers have more chances to break into employees’ accounts and get access to business-sensitive data or personal data without even getting detected. Therefore, implementing a strong password policy is a must today, and passwords must be changed after every 90 days.
Other than a strong password policy, multi-factor authentication adds an additional layer of protection. It implies that along with the basic password verification, there will be another authentication step, such as verification by OTP, special pin, or fingerprint. This ensures that only authorized employees are accessing the data.
- Attention to Insider Threats
External threats are seemed to be the only main concerning threats for businesses, so the security measures are oriented according to them. But the reality is that insider threats are the ones triggering the external threats inside corporate networks. For example, an employee received a phishing email that contained a malicious link or an attachment that seemed legitimate. Once the employee clicks the link, it releases the ransomware worm or installs malware into the system without leaving any traces behind. Similarly, an employee opening sensitive information files using public internet at a coffee shop also makes the data vulnerable.
Insider threats are more difficult to detect and can remain undetected for weeks or months. The best approach is to pay more attention to insider threats. Some of the practices include removing phishing emails smartly before they even reach employees’ inboxes, educating employees about possible insider threats and data security practices, investing more in network protection, patching software regularly, etc.
Bonus Part: Practice Data Backup
Data is not just vulnerable to cyber-attacks, other calamities such as hardware malfunction, power outages, natural disasters, and similar others are potential risks of data loss. Just imagine a business losing its crucial data and the impact it can cause. Therefore, every business needs a robust data backup plan.
There are multiple ways to backup data, i.e., on-premises backup, cloud backup, or hybrid backup. But which backup medium is the best to pick? On-premises backups are also vulnerable just like the original data stored in the data centre. On the other hand, cloud backups remove any data loss chances from local malfunctions or cyber-attacks and also provide access to data backups from anywhere, anytime. So, cloud-based backups seem a preferred choice. But if you want sensitive data to reside within your premises and still want to benefit from cloud backup for other data backups, then the hybrid backup is the best choice.
Setting up an effective data security system is not an easy task anymore, but it is very crucial. Whether you are building a new business or conducting an audit to comply with privacy laws and similar regulations, ensuring data security and management can have a significant impact on your business growth. In a nutshell, no matter where your business stands, make sure that all your business-sensitive data is well protected because the other way around is very costly.