Data protection: Be aggressive and be smart — or be a victim

Data breaches continue to rise, data volumes continue to grow, and our digital footprint continues to spread. We are fighting a digital information privacy war and our companies and data are being targeted. When it comes to data protection, organizations must be aggressive and proactive if they are to have any chance of protecting their company and customer data.

Breaches will persist and will become more frequent and common. This combined with stricter data protection regulations means that organizations must look for better ways and strategies to protect both company and customer data.

In our data-driven environment, threats challenging organizations daily and compliance pressures require all sectors and businesses to step up their game in data security. This requires a shift from a reactive to a more proactive approach. This means looking at your environment differently and taking a deeply analytical view to consider all the potential threat areas. Look at the company as a whole as well as all the employees — how they work and their behavior.

Encourage data protection throughout your business

Medical data protection
It’s so important that everyone is properly trained and skilled in the art of human firewalling so that the entire organization is involved in protecting the data assets. All employees. At all levels. Data protection is not the IT manager’s or even the IT team’s responsibility alone. If it is approached in this way the outcome will be flawed.

Human behavior is linked to cybercrime. Phishing attacks and other crimeware continue to be lucrative because of human vulnerability. More and more we are realizing the importance of educating the entire workforce on the significance and requirement for data protection. A businesswide effort is needed for the best protection. People need to know good and safe data handling and need to know what to look out for.

If everyone is aware of the data’s value, the threat areas, the gaps, what to look out for and how to handle each situation and circumstance, there is a greater chance of success of keeping the bad out. With more people on high alert and looking for problems every day, “inconsistencies” will be spotted before they become invasions.

Although there is so much information and detail relating to precautionary measures out there for us to learn and follow on the threat incidents, like phishing, these continue to catch organizations off-guard. We continue to see large organizations falling victim.

These repeatedly successful attacks emphasize the necessity for employee training. They are the weak link and the way that criminals continue to succeed. Technology to protect data definitely helps and has a role in security, but training is an essential part.

The most valuable asset — data — should not be one person’s responsibility to protect. It just does not work! This has been proven over and over again.

A data protection plan without employee awareness training is futile. Security must be a team effort.

Reinforce your incident response plan

Data Security
Know where the data with value is. Know who has access to the data. Develop a plan so that you are quick to respond and everyone knows what to do.

At the time of an incident, the speed at which you can respond is crucial and will have a direct relation to decreasing the impact of the breach and retrieving the data.

The last thing that you want is to find yourself in the middle of a data crisis with no plan to action.

Use your business data to help you

Most organizations have lots of business data that belongs to them that they can legally use. There are ways to improve your data protection by using your data to make better decisions that are more informed.

Instead of focusing only on the incidents of attack like malware, viruses, and hackers, consider the behaviors within your business and your employees. Consider using analytics and systems to figure out the norm. Once you know this, alerts can be issued when something out of the ordinary is happening.

This is a good approach for monitoring and can help to pick up on anomalies so that rectifying actions can be taken sooner rather than later.

Protect the data

We all realize the value of data — both businesses and criminals. With all the attacks and cybercrime incidents happening across the sectors and throughout the world, it is very noticeable how sought-after data is.

Take the viewpoint that your data is vulnerable and that a breach is likely if you are not aggressively and constantly protecting it. Encrypting data is essential. If a breach occurs and your data is stolen, it would be unusable.

Let it become habitual and the norm within your business so that any time data is stored in plain text a warning light shows — as this would be an anomaly. This is where you want your business to be and how you want your employees to think.

A combination of proactive tactics

A combination of these tactics can help to shift the mindset within your organization. You want your employees to be part of the solution and part of the battle. If they are not, it means they will be part of the problem. By taking an approach that encourages the entirety of the organization to get on-board makes your data protection strategy much stronger and enhances the odds of a successful security outcome.

Businesses are experiencing heightened cybersecurity threats of great sophistication that is showing no sign of easing. Extremely damaging and lasting repercussions spanning financial, compliance, and legal implications as well as lasting impacts on business reputation are all likely.

It’s good to be prepared: training your staff and senior management team is your first layer of defense. Having firm and appropriate procedures will help command the technology that you require to protect your data assets.

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