We are at an age where a significant bulk of our transactions are done online, which means that the Internet holds a large chunk of sensitive data, from personal information to company assets.
The availability of these data on the internet also means that they are prone to breaches. A report by the University of Maryland found that a cyber-attack targets sensitive data every 39 seconds.
It is a popular belief that protecting data online means having to use strong passwords. However, given the proficiency of cybercriminals and the advanced programs they use to breach sensitive data, having strong passwords might not be enough. Here are additional ways to enhance data security in your organization.
Reduce Human Error
While data breaches happen online, your first form of security against them makes use of manual work. A study by IBM shows that 95% of all data breaches happen because of human error. Human error in this case refers to unintentional actions or lack thereof.
According to Triple Blind, internal data breaches – those that happen with the assistance of someone within an organization – includes inauthentic access, irresponsible disposal of sensitive data, and unintentional sharing to an unauthorized party. Physical security errors can also happen when computers are left unattended.
Since most data breaches happen due to human error, it then makes sense to prioritize mitigating it. One way to do so is to limit data access by ensuring that your users only have access to data that they need to perform their roles.
Another way to limit human error when it comes to handling data is to train your personnel on core security topics, particularly on data handling as well as the use of email, the internet, and social media.
Make Data Unreadable to Outsiders
As mentioned earlier, vast amounts of data is available online, which makes it easy for third parties to access and decode sensitive information. One of the most effective way to avoid having outsiders access your data is to encrypt it.
Encryption is a privacy tool that scrambles plain text into a secret code that becomes unreadable to those that do not have the key or authorization to do so. Not only is encryption effective in keeping your data secure, some regulations such as HIPAA and FERPA also require its use.
For small businesses and personal users, strong encryption is already built into newer versions of Windows and Linux. For instance, Microsoft Bitlocker is an encryption tool that is available on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.
You can enable it by opening your Windows or File Explorer, right-clicking on Drive C, and clicking the “Turn On BitLocker” option. Make sure that you also save a copy of your recovery key, as without this key, you will not be able to access your data. There are also third-party encryption programs that you can use, such as AxCrypt and VeraCrypt, which is highly rated by users and third-party testers.
One of the most common consequence of data breach is the loss of important data. Data loss, in turn, can translate into losing time and money in recovering files and documents that are important to you or your business.
Often, small companies who experience data loss face severe financial difficulties, and studies show that 70% of these companies fall out of business within a year of a large data loss incident.
This is what makes back-up and recovery so important when it comes to data security. A backup refers to a digital copy of computer data which is taken and stored in a separate computer system.
This backup makes it easy for you to recover your data in case of a primary data failure such as accidental deletion, hardware or software failure, and malicious virus attacks.
There are several ways to back-up your data, such as a full back-up, an incremental back-up, a differential back-up, and a mirror back-up, among others. To effectively back-up your data, you first need to assess the amount of data you have and how capable your network is.
When it comes to data security, regardless if you decide to follow one of these suggestions or all of them, the most important thing to bear in mind is to be proactive.
Data breaches can have severe financial consequences, so always keeping your data secure also means that you keep your livelihood safe from human error or malicious attacks.