Data breach is a serious threat to any business operation. The loss or leakage of sensitive data can result in significant financial losses and reputational damage, and can even be harmful to the long-term steadiness of a company.
Some common examples of data leakage include intellectual property, customer/employee information, and even medical records. A 2016 study by IBM around the cost of data breach revealed that average combined data breach cost hit the $4 million mark. According to Juniper’s forecast, the global yearly cost of information breach will be more than $2.1 trillion by 2019.
Since the volume of data is growing by the day and the levels of leaks are also exponentially increasing, safeguarding sensitive information from landing into the wrong hands becomes one of the most burning security problems for enterprises.
Data leaks can be due to external or internal data breaches, either inadvertently ( when a partner or employee accidentally discloses sensitive information, for example) or intentionally (like data sabotage by employees and associates or theft by intruders).
An Intel Security study revealed that employees are responsible for 43% of corporate data leakage, with 22% of these leaks being accidental. The motivation of intentional leaks may vary from person to person or enterprise to enterprise and may include grievance with the employer, financial reward or corporate espionage. Accidental leaks, on the other hand, may arise from inadvertent activities as a result of poor business processes, like lack of appropriate employee oversight, security policies, and preventative techniques.
This then begs the question, how can businesses enhance data security?
By identifying sensitive data
The first and most important thing that a company should do when planning to enhance their data security is to identify which kind of information is sensitive and which one isn’t. This makes it possible for them to know where to allocate which kind of resources.
While sensitive enterprise data is only about 5 to 10% of the total business information, a data breach involving personal or sensitive data could lead to a company’s loss of revenue and reputation. Going back to access rights and management, companies should put more stringent measures on sensitive information over other kinds of information.
By limiting data access
Many companies give some insiders, employees, and associates, a privilege to access their sensitive data. While this might seem as though it is necessary, it only increases the risk of data breach. The best approach is for companies to be aware of everyone who has access to the business data and also to identify the access rights of each of the individuals.
It is a huge data loss risk if the executives aren’t aware of the details of each employee who has access to the data and the reasons why they have access. Companies should also determine the kind of data that an individual needs and make sure they only have access to what they require, and nothing else. Limiting data access can help businesses to safeguard information from loss or theft.
By pre-planning data security policy
Another great way for companies to mitigate data security breach is by pre-planning their data security policy and security measures – a great strategy for times of incident response and critical situations. With policies in place, it is easy for a company to react immediately in response to cyber-attack, thus preventing extreme impacts.
By using strong passwords
Sensitive data should be kept out of reach by the use of strong passwords. Creating complex passwords is a necessity when fighting a range of password hacking tools that are easily accessible on the market today. A great approach is to use a mix of different characters like symbols, alphabets, numbers and a combination of capital and small letters.
In addition to creating strong passwords, it is recommended that each department will have a different password, so that in case one department is hacked, the rest remain safe. Using the same password for different access and programs is a huge risk for data theft.
As such, businesses should have unique passwords for the departments and employees. They can then make sure that all individuals who have access go through proper data security training. If keeping tabs with the passwords becomes an issue, then companies can make use of a password manager tool to manage all passwords.
Where possible, an enterprise can integrate a multi-factor authentication, where they add one or more steps on top of the password login. This serves as another layer of protection and will make hacking much more difficult. Multi-factor authentication may include things like smart cards, push notifications, token authentication and biometrics.
By performing frequent data backup and update
Last, but not least, companies should perform routine data backups and security checks. Data backups are important as they help an organization to have a copy of files or data in case they experience an unexpected data breach or attack. Ideally, the backups should be automatic or done on a daily or weekly basis.
Additionally, the data should be safeguarded with efficient antivirus tools and updated software to prevent corruption.
Building a successful company is by no means an easy task, and sustaining it through the storms is even harder. With the ever-rising cases of cyber-attacks, the need for businesses to re-equip themselves with privacy enhancements and security tools is no longer an option, but a necessity, as it’s the only way to protect their most valuable asset – data.