Data protection is essential for every company, irrespective of their domain or their size. But almost all organizations fail at some aspect of data security. True, it is often the big players such as Facebook, Twitter, Quora, or others who make it to the headlines when their data protection policies fail. But every day, individuals and small firms fall victim to cyberattacks — although we don’t always hear about them. For organizations of all sizes, data protection is crucial as they don’t just have their own data at stake, but often millions of customer-sensitive data they must protect. If their data protection strategies fail, it will affect the business, its reputation, and its customers.
While there are several security solutions and automation tools available for security purposes, there are vital aspects that are basic, fundamental, and often most important when it comes to security. Here are the top data protection tips that are not just crucial for organizational security but can often be taken as the golden rules of keeping the company’s data secure.
Train your workforce
One of the major causes of a cybersecurity attack or a data breach at an organizational level is employees’ negligence. Organizations need to make sure everyone in the workforce understands all the security policies of the company. Any change in security or compliance policies need to be communicated to everyone involved to make sure there is no siloed information. A best practice would be to include security outlook training during new employee onboarding and plan monthly or biweekly refreshers for all employees to keep them updated about the security measures. It is equally important for an organization to monitor and ensure that all the security practices are being followed. Sometimes, companies might have to train their employees about something as basic as avoiding browsing insecure websites, downloading attachments from suspicious emails, or any abnormal IT behavior that might lead to a potential threat.
Have a data protection strategy and document it
Having a security strategy or a data protection plan is crucial, and every organization should develop, enforce, and keep updating its comprehensive enterprise-level data security plan. Having a well-organized and categorized security plan is mandatory. As a best practice, organizations should categorize and have a different plan for data collected, processed, served, or utilized for the organization internally. Security policies and contingency plans for each of these data categories should be clearly defined. Moreover, data categorization is an absolute must for organizations for security and control. Not all data needs to be secured and not all data needs to be backed up. Defining these clearly will not only help companies secure themselves but will also save a huge amount of capital.
Internally, organizations can also categorize employees and allocate different levels of roles and permissions for accessing data. Restricting or limiting the number of users who have admin-level privileges makes it easier to manage and track issues. A security strategy plan should also consider what needs to be done regularly to keep your organization safe from cyberthreats, in the case of falling victim to a cyberattack, and its remedial measures and purposes. While most organizations have all of these data security strategies in place, they often fail to document them. It is the responsibility of the organization to make sure each security policy has been properly documented, updated when necessary, and is readily accessible to the workforce.
Keep your data protection plan up to date
Cybercriminals are advancing in terms of their skill and knowledge to penetrate a company’s defenses. We are witnessing advanced forms of cyberattacks daily, which makes it almost impossible to be completely prepared to defend against all threats. To stay protected, it is essential to keep updated with all the cyber-trends and security solutions that are being developed. Once an organization has a definitive security plan in place, it is important to update all the security systems, including firewalls, antivirus, security certificates, and other security solutions, to avoid vulnerabilities. There have been several incidents in the past where large companies have fallen prey to cyberattacks due to minor negligence to update their systems. For instance, the Equifax breach, which affected more than 143 million people globally, happened because the company failed to update Apache Struts, according to sources who spoke to Bloomberg.
There are several specialized security solutions and services that are tailor-made to protect against specific cyberattacks. Companies need to figure out their strengths and weaknesses to assess themselves and know where they stand in terms of security. This often helps in choosing the right data protection and security services.
Know where the data is and where it’s going
With the advancements in cloud platforms, a majority of companies all over the globe are storing their data on the cloud. Still, a large portion of these companies use on-premises datacenters to store their data for control, accessibility purposes, or compliance reasons. Using hybrid paradigms to store data among both cloud and on-premises infrastructure can be a very secure and reliable means of safeguarding data.
While cloud services provide several advantages such as real-time scalability, elasticity, and operational support, you will not have complete control over your data as it is stored beyond your accessibility. Therefore, storing confidential information on-premises and using cloud platforms for storing all other data can be a very cost-effective, secure, and easy-to-manage solution. But with this hybrid paradigm, organizations need to keep track of where the data is residing and need to monitor data transmission paths and destinations before transmitting the data. Securing endpoint devices, APIs, and public network systems play an equally vital role in safeguarding the data.
Encrypt wherever possible
The use of multifactor authentication, encrypting the sensitive data, having backups, securing the data transmission lines, and securing the endpoints are some of the crucial security measures for data protection. Although encryption is a performance-heavy process, it still does the job of securing sensitive data. Categorizing the data is one way to reduce costs and performance overhead associated with encryption. Not all data needs to be protected or encrypted —only the data that is considered sensitive and of high-value needs to be taken care of. Enterprise-level encryption is generally considered to include 128 or 256-bit ciphers. They are available in a variety of forms.
On top of encryption, using multifactor authentication adds another layer of security. Compromised credentials serve as a primary cause of data breaches. Multifactor authentication adds another layer of account security by supplementing the traditional username and password authentication model with another factor that only the specific user has access to.
While no security measure can guarantee complete protection from a cyberattack or data breach, following these preventive measures can either safeguard the company from potential damage or can at least help minimize the impact in case of a cyberattack. Moreover, every employee is equally responsible for safeguarding data and acting responsibly at the workplace. Following nondisclosure agreements set up by the employer, following the best practices, and avoiding the use of organizational resources such as networks or devices for personal use are some of the other essentials.
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2 thoughts on “Data protection and data security: Top tips and best practices”
You made a good point that data security should be part of the things included in employee training. I’m thinking about starting my own advertising agency soon so I’m starting to prepare for everything that I would need to keep the office running properly. Business security solutions might be something I should look further into.
Taking preventive measures for security is always the way to go. Good luck Alice!