Blog | January 14th, 2022
How your Company can Avoid a Data Breach
A data breach is one of the most expensive catastrophes that can happen to a business. It’s costly to recover from data breaches, so it’s critical for businesses to learn and practice how your company can avoid a data breach. Data breaches are way more than a temporary threat — they will change the course of your business.
Data breaches are becoming increasingly common. People don’t realize how easily they can happen because many modern threats work in ways that most people wouldn’t expect. This makes them more dangerous than ever before due to this unawareness about the possible consequences of not taking security seriously enough and mitigating its effects when it occurs.
What is a Data Breach?
A data breach is a generic term used to describe an incident in which data is accessed and potentially compromised by unauthorized individuals. The definition of data can vary from company to company, but it generally refers to any type of information that could be used to identify or contact an individual, such as name, Social Security number, email address, or credit score.
Data breaches are a real threat to anyone with an internet connection. More importantly, you can put others at risk by being unprotected yourself!
What causes a data breach?
There are many ways data can be accessed and compromised without the company’s knowledge or consent. Some of the most common causes of data breaches include:
Hacking: This is by far the most common cause of data breaches. Hackers use a variety of methods to gain access to data, including malware, phishing attacks, and social engineering.
Employee error: Accidental exposure of data is a leading cause of data breaches. Employees may inadvertently leave documents containing sensitive information in public places or send emails with confidential information to the wrong person.
Theft: Thieves can steal laptops, smartphones, or other devices that contain sensitive data. Especially ones that are unencrypted or unlocked.
Poor security practices: Many data breaches occur as a result of companies not implementing cybersecurity measures in place.
Ransomware: This data breach happens when data is held hostage by cybercriminals. All data becomes encrypted and a ransom of money is demanded in exchange for the decryption key to unlock it.
So what steps can you take to avoid data breaches?
- Keep data within the company: Data should only be stored and processed by your company. Sensitive data that is not required for business purposes should not be kept, and data that is required to be held for longer than necessary should have security measures put in place to prevent unauthorized access by staff or outside parties.
- Use data encryption: Data can remain secure if it is encrypted before it’s uploaded onto a device or sent as an email attachment. Encryption scrambles data so it becomes unreadable without the decryption key which only those authorized to access it will have access to.
- Train employees: All staff needs to understand what they can and cannot do with sensitive information and why data protection is so important.
- Implement data loss prevention software: Companies have the right to monitor data in transfer to ensure it does not leave their systems without authorization, data can also be monitored when it is at rest in order to minimize data breaches when employees are working with personal data on work devices or putting data onto USB memory sticks.
- Use firewalls: A firewall acts as a perimeter between your local network and the internet- all data that leaves your network passes through this firewall for inspection before it’s allowed out of your IT infrastructure.
- Limit access: Privileged account credentials should only be granted to trusted staff who need them for legitimate business purposes and should be restricted by role or job function; authentication data should be refreshed regularly.
- Train staff: Data security is everyone’s responsibility, so the data must be shared with all employees.
- Educate users on data protection: For data to remain secure it needs to be protected at every stage of its life cycle including moving, using, and storing it securely.
- Strive for data minimization: Data will only be stored if necessary for business processes or compliance reasons; data storage policies must include expiration dates to inform end-users when personal data can no longer be retained under specific circumstances listed in the GDPR regulation.
- Implement data protection: Data should also be protected by strong security and confidentiality measures (e.g. encryption).
It’s easy to think that data breaches are something you can fix later. But if a breach happens, it can be costly. According to the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost of worldwide data breaches in 2020 amounts to $3.86 million per breach. This is a 37% increase from 2017’s average cost of $2.75 million per breach.
It will also take up all your time and resources as the company recovers from the event. And recovering is not always an option; in some cases, customers will never come back after their personal information was leaked or compromised by hackers.
For this reason alone, businesses need to learn how they can prevent these catastrophes before they happen—and then practice what they’ve learned so that there isn’t any risk of a data breach occurring at all. With Contango Unlimited, taking necessary steps becomes less daunting and much more manageable. Ask us today!
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