Preventing data breaches isn't just about avoiding lawsuits, it's also key to ensuring your business protects its bottom line.
According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach has increased by 2.6%, from $4.24 million in 2021 to $4.35 million in 2022. A data breach can mean lost information, damaged reputation, and can lead to delays and lost productivity. It's clear that data breaches are one of the biggest threats to modern businesses, so stopping them is critical. In this article, we'll walk you through 10 key best practices for stopping data breaches before they happen.
How to Have a Secure Data Policy Data breaches can happen in many ways, so a comprehensive approach to data security is imperative. When considering these best practices, keep in mind that they work best when used together.
1. When it comes to data breaches, you can't protect what you didn't know you had. This means businesses must take stock of all their data and sensitive information. Your company should catalog all the information and keep updating your database to make sure you know where your data is. Taking an inventory of the sensitive information you hold is especially important for companies that need to comply with HIPAA, GDPR, and other regulations governing sensitive data. By knowing where your data is, you'll be in a better position to protect it and prevent it from being compromised.
2. Establishing access controls to minimize the surface area that can be attacked is also key. One way to mitigate potential attacks is to restrict access to business data. For example, consider anyone's role and needs before granting them access to sensitive data. Just because a manager manages an entire department doesn't mean they need access to sensitive data. Create policies on increasing access levels and ensure they are regularly audited.
3. Keep software updated Security flaws, including zero-day exploits, are a constant threat to your data. Patching software and networks is critical for IT security teams.
4. Secure your network perimeter and data endpoints One of the largest attack surfaces many companies have is their network perimeter. Think of your network as a city wall. Any loose stones could be a potential entry point for attackers. By using firewalls, access controls, intrusion detection, and other tools, you can secure your perimeter and minimize the risk of bad actors getting in.
5. Monitoring a user's work from anywhere has changed many aspects of our world, for better or worse, and it has accelerated the adoption of remote work. As employees shift to working from home, it's important to leverage software to track what remote employees are doing. This type of software can help prevent unauthorized access and detect when employees misuse sensitive data.
6. Establish a zero-trust environment that limits lateral movement An excellent way to protect endpoints, networks, and data is to leverage a zero-trust environment. The zero trust security model has become the standard for data security in the 21st century. In a zero-trust security environment, three core principles are key: Explicitly authenticated access using the least privileges Assuming breach Through explicit authentication, access can be authorized and authenticated based on all available data points. This means using a specific IP for access, geographic location, device, etc. All of these, and others, should be used to verify authenticity. Least privilege access means that users should be restricted from accessing data specific to their role.
7. Improve password security At a minimum, your company should adopt a modern password policy. Password policies should follow these guidelines: Require minimum password length Require employees to use uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters Change passwords regularly (60-90 days) Require multi-factor authentication Lock out users after a minimum number of password attempts.
8. Hire a security expert This may seem shocking, but sometimes the best security measures are outsourced. Many companies are unable to establish dedicated security teams due to funding constraints or organizational issues. In such cases, the Liberty Security Team can provide you with the security you need to keep your data safe. If you're looking for ways to enhance your backend security, you can expect to pay an experienced developer for much less than hiring a salaried individual to do similar work. Whatever the case, these security experts can help keep your data safe.
9. Use advanced security monitoring tools to improve your data security. Another important way to protect data is to use advanced security tools to monitor your data infrastructure. Today, IT professionals leverage artificial intelligence and monitoring tools to monitor differences in network load to detect intrusions and notify security professionals when anomalies are detected.
10. By educating stakeholders about cybersecurity, and most importantly, your cybersecurity strategy should include cybersecurity training for all stakeholders. Stakeholders are often on the front lines, and data breaches can happen to anyone, so remember that cybersecurity is not just about implementing one or a few of these best practices.
A well-implemented cybersecurity program should use all of these tactics and more to ensure strong defenses against hackers trying to steal data.