With more and more businesses now move their operations online, there are also more threats to data security.
As we know, data is now a very valuable asset for any company, and be it employee information, customer payment information, design blueprints, and information on business strategies, among others, keeping your company’s sensitive data secure is very important.
Data security and cybersecurity, in general, may sound like a simple concept at first glance, but the actual implementations can be quite challenging, especially for smaller businesses who don’t have millions of dollars of budget to invest in state-of-the-art cybersecurity infrastructures.
In order to keep your company’s sensitive data secure, it’s essential to take these data protection tips:
1. Regularly Train Your Workforce About Security Awareness
Human errors remain the top cause of data breaches, and in any organization, employee negligence is a potential security vulnerability.
With more and more companies allowing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies and even allowing their employees to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the risks related to employee negligence have also grown even bigger.
It’s very important to properly educate your team about cybersecurity best practices, and you have to make sure all employees understand the security policies of your company. You might want to consider including security awareness training during new employee onboarding, and monthly (or even, bi-weekly) refreshers to keep them up-to-date about the latest cybersecurity threats.
Train your employees to recognize and avoid common phishing and social-engineering attacks, as well as best practices like using VPNs before accessing public Wi-Fi, using strong and unique passwords, and so on.
2. Invest In a Proper Cybersecurity Infrastructure
You’ll need to invest at least in the essential cybersecurity solutions including but not limited to:
Protect your system from malware. When your system is infected, attackers can use the malware as a gateway to launch more severe attacks including serious data breaches. Invest in a proper antivirus solution that offers behavioral-based detection so you can protect your system from zero-day attacks.
- Bot management solution
Many cybersecurity attack vectors are made possible with the use of malicious bots, including but not limited to brute-force/credential cracking attacks, credential stuffing, and DDoS attacks.
So, by properly detecting and managing these malicious bot activities, you can effectively protect your system/network from these attacks.
However, we can no longer rely on traditional bot management solutions in defending against today’s highly sophisticated bots. Many bot programmers have adopted AI and machine learning technologies, allowing their bots to effectively impersonate humanlike behaviors while avoiding detection. This is why having an AI-based botnet detection software like DataDome is now recommended in battling these sophisticated bots.
3. Scale Down Stored Information and Make Your Attack Surface Smaller
As a general rule of thumb, you should keep only the sensitive data that your business absolutely needs. If you don’t have an actual need to store sensitive data and/or personally identifiable information (PII), then don’t even collect it.
- Check your payment processing software (if any) that reads credit card numbers and other payment-related information. These software solutions should have a setting to keep information permanently, change it so that you don’t keep the information you don’t need. Don’t store card numbers and expiration dates unless you have a legitimate business need to do so.
- Be very careful when collecting and using Social Security Numbers. Only use them when absolutely necessary.
If you must keep sensitive information for one reason or another, or to comply with your local regulations, then consider developing a retention policy to regulate what information must be stored, how to secure it, how long you’ll keep it, and how to dispose of it completely and securely when it’s no longer needed.
4. Keep Everything Up-To-Date
Software and OS updates are there for a reason: no software is 100% secure, and there will always be vulnerabilities. Trustworthy software manufacturers regularly release security fixes to ‘patch’ these vulnerabilities, so it’s very important to update all your OS, software, and apps regularly.
Turn on automatic updates on everything if possible, but if not, make a habit of updating any software as soon as the updates are available.
Updates are especially important for your server’s OS, and also remind your employees to have their smartphones, tablets, and computers always up-to-date.
5. Strong and Unique Password Policy
You should mandate complex and long passwords: at least 10 characters with a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, but also make sure they are also using unique passwords for each account.
Credential stuffing attacks are designed to take advantage of the fact that so many of us are using the same passwords for all of our accounts, so don’t make the same mistake. Nowadays, there are various password manager tools that can help us generate and ‘remember’ unique and complex passwords easily, so there’s simply no reason not to use strong and unique passwords.
Also, for network administration, the password should be changed at least four times per year, and employees shouldn’t be able to use any of the previous ten passwords.
The cybersecurity threats related to data security are continuously evolving, and so it’s important to keep your company’s cybersecurity infrastructure and best practices up-to-date in order to keep your company’s sensitive data secure from these threats. You can use the tips we’ve shared above to effectively protect your company’s system from data breaches, and keep your sensitive data secure.