Studies on the cost of data breaches in 2017 revealed that the global average cost of a single data breach event was $3.6 million, equivalent to $141 per data record.
One successful cyberattack could seriously damage your business and reputation, and cause a financial burden for you and your customers. Securing your business’s data is not easy, and it takes expertise, but you can protect your business from cybersecurity threats by implementing practical and straightforward solutions:
Conduct regular security audits
Performing a thorough audit of your systems helps you determine whether your IT infrastructure is actually secure or not. A network security audit involves checking cybersecurity policies and assets on the network to identify any deficiencies that put your business at risk of a security breach.
Work with your security team or third-party experts to audit your computers, networks, and mobile devices to determine what you need to do to prevent hackers from accessing your network. A security audit is essential, especially with the rise of social engineers—hackers who pretend to be you to reset passwords and infiltrate your network using malicious software.
In addition, it will help you develop policies for handling sensitive requests like password resets over the phone and make you rethink what you reveal online.
Secure your hardware
Securing your company’s computers, laptops, mobile devices, and other hardware is often overlooked but should be a fundamental part of your strategy to better protect your business from cyberattacks. Data breaches commonly occur due to stolen equipment or an infected USB drive or application that delivers software that can capture keystrokes, passwords, and data.
Protect your devices through complicated passwords and install security software like anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam filters. Don’t ignore updates as this will only leave cracks in your defense system that can be exploited by hackers. Ensure that you regularly update company devices, operating systems, and browsers.
Set up an optimized firewall to protect internal networks, block hacking attempts, and filter out other unwanted traffic like spammers and malicious bots. A virtual private network (VPN) will also help make a system more secure, especially for employees who routinely use their smartphone or laptop to access their work server from anywhere. VPNs have various authentication procedures to protect computer data when employees are online.
Train employees on cyber security
The workforce is your first line of defense when it comes to security. But because of a lack of education and proper training, your staff become the weak link in the chain. Many data breaches happen due to an employee’s inability to recognize and respond to external threats.
According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, 27% of the 53,000 real-word cyber breaches were perpetrated by insiders either maliciously or, in 17% of cases, simply by human error.
A change of attitude is highly needed. Strive to embed good cybersecurity into the workplace culture by training employees regularly on how to encrypt data, generate strong passwords, properly file and store data, and avoid malware. Educate your employees about the importance of cybersecurity policies and help your staff understand the consequences of a data breach and the risks associated with using unsecured networks to access work information.
Restrictive data permissions are also crucial to security—make sure your employees only have access rights to the vital information they need to do their jobs. Discourage password sharing and use protocols like creating temporary passwords for contractors. Make your employees aware of phishing scams and the dangers of inadvertently downloading malicious attachments in emails that can put malware on a device.
Encrypt and back up data
The International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications emphasized that encryption remains the most efficient fix for data breaches. Encryption makes sure that if your data falls into the wrong hands, whoever accesses it won’t be able to read or use it. Be sure to encrypt all sensitive data, including customer records, financial records, business plans, and employee information.
Stay ahead of digital criminals by regularly backing up all of your data and storing it separately. It’s better to use multiple back-up methods to ensure the safety of essential files, than to lose them due to a single back-up failure.
Use strong passwords and multi-factor security
Weak passwords are the most vulnerable to compromise because they’re too easy for hackers to guess. Always encourage employees to use complicated, strong, and unique passwords for each account, and make sure they frequently change them every few months.
You can use a password manager tool to generate unique passwords and securely store your logins, so employees don’t have to worry about writing them down or forgetting them. For better protection, increase the number of defensive layers through multi-factor security. Multi-factor authentication strengthens your data security by requiring more pieces of credentials to access an account.
This method makes it extra difficult for hackers to infiltrate your company’s systems because it combines different elements such as generated SMS codes, biometrics, facial recognition, and iris scanning, for effective and secure authentication.
Seek expert advice
The most crucial piece of advice I can off is to stay informed about the latest scams and security risks. Seek help from a cybersecurity specialist who can help you understand recent incidents and make sure that correct protection is in place to prevent the possibility of a similar data breach. Also, consider investing in cybersecurity insurance so you can mitigate losses that can be incurred from data breaches.
Don’t be complacent and always take a proactive approach in assessing the security of your systems. For example, use the same tools as malicious hackers and conduct penetration tests. This will help you identify weak points and close security gaps in your systems.