Data Protection: What Can You Do to Secure Your Company Jewels?

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In a data-driven world where customer data is a company’s most valuable asset, it is most fundamental to secure data at an optimum level. Unfortunately, not all companies are doing what it takes to strengthen their security.

In a data-driven world where customer data is a company’s most valuable asset, it is most fundamental to secure data at an optimum level. When data is concerned, most organizations become oblivious to data protection best practices and end up getting hacked. Today, consumerization is rapidly changing the way we do business with employees utilizing different devices, cloud services, and even alternate network access—allowing them to work anytime, anywhere. In some companies, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is becoming the new norm. While it boosts productivity, it also increases the risk of data loss.

Unfortunately, not only enterprises are at risk of getting compromised, but small to medium businesses as well. With the evolving tools and techniques of cybercriminals and attackers, companies should start establishing data loss prevention strategies and best practices for compliance to build a new security approach for the workplace. According to security experts, attacks don’t necessarily need to be profit driven, but stealing data could be even more valuable to cybercriminals in the long run. Pilfering a company’s intellectual property could mean anywhere between sensitive customer information and critical business data. Either way, the theft of both could lead to disastrous results.

With the high risks involved in a data breach, businesses should be more vigilant toward protecting their company jewels. With that in mind, companies are encouraged to learn and understand the different methods and tactics cybercriminals use to steal data. Here’s a rundown of these techniques and how you can prevent them:

Social engineering – one of the oldest tricks in the book, social engineering is the art of obtaining information from an unknowing user by means of manipulation. This method plays on the trusting nature of people whether physically or online to gain useful information that can be used to infiltrate a system.

Phishing – this technique is the most common way for cybercriminals to get to a potential victim. It is done by inserting malicious code into links, attachments, and websites to trick users into giving information inadvertently. Unfortunately, despite its ubiquitous nature, it is still as effective as ever.

Spear phishing – a technique that is essentially similar to phishing, spear phishing targets a specific individual or business to steal information for malicious purposes.

Ransomware – this type of malware gained notoriety in 2016. Although this method originally targeted individuals, more cybercriminals have been using ransomware to steal information from companies as well.

The human element – while outsider attacks or cybercrime are the common causes of a data breach, humans are still considered to be the weakest link. Employees are prone to human error, however, in some cases, data loss can be attributed to an employee’s carelessness via lost devices, unintentional sharing of corporate or personal details on publicly available locations, and malware-infected personal devices.

What can you do to mitigate attacks?

It is rather difficult to predict an attack, which is why it becomes important to implement preventive security measures to defend against cybercrime. The following best practices can help you get a head start in establishing proper data protection protocols:

Encryption – though one might find it technical, encryption is necessary if you want to make sure that your data could not be easily stolen even if hackers get a hold of your customer’s information. Encryption essentially protects data by being interpreted. For example, a message is sent, the message is scrambled and the receiver must have a key in order to be able to read the sender’s message.

Digital certificates – to avoid unnecessary fines or penalties, companies should be compliant. Make sure you have the important digital certificates.

DLP and auditing – DLP or Data Loss Prevention is fundamental to any company. Make sure you that DLP is part of your security software features as this will prevent your data from being lost or stolen.

Secure your data against man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks and malware infections – MiTM attacks are common network attacks that attackers use to intercept communications. It is difficult to tell if you’ve been hit by this type of attack since such attacks could run stealthy for days or even months.

Use spam filters or email servers – one of the most common infection vector is email. Many users are tricked into clicking links or attachments in emails which leads them to malicious pages. Spam filters is a good way to block potential threats from entering your system.

Network-based security hardware and software – before attackers or cybercriminals infiltrate your web or email systems, your network will be targeted first. If your network is vulnerable, chances are, your system will be penetrate by data-stealing malware.

Maintain security patches – this is why it’s important to update your operating systems and other applications and software. Make sure that you have patches in place to mitigate attacks.

Educate and train your employees – the BYOD trend is unstoppable. With more employees using their devices in their work space, the risk of data theft, whether intentional or otherwise, is higher. While BYOD provides great work-life balance to employees, it could also endanger confidential data. Make sure to educate and train your employees well about the dangers of connecting outside the office.

Ultimately, a paradigm shift in security mindset is necessary. Knowing is never enough, hence, a holistic approach on network protection is a good way to bolster your company’s security—and protect critical data.

Resources:

http://www.ittoday.info/Articles/Protecting_Critical_Business_Data.htm

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