According to Forbes, data breaches saw more than 4 billion records exposed in the first six months of 2019. In 2019, the World Economic Forum categorized cyberattacks as one of the top five risks of global stability.
Data breaches have been increasing in both number and impact. Therefore, protecting the sensitive data of your company is now more critical than ever.
The fact is, there’s no bulletproof method that guarantees the security of the data of your company. Attackers are innovative in creating sophisticated tools and approaches to compromise your security. However, there are steps you can take to ensure your data is as safe as possible.
Establish A Proper Workflow For Handling Sensitive Information
You need to establish a workflow process that protects your company’s data. This workflow process makes sure you know who or which department is responsible and accountable for what data.
The first step is knowing what kind of data you have and where it is. Then, classify the data such as public, internal, and confidential. Data classification helps you build effective processes to protect each category.
Ideally, you should be able to establish proper workflow after you understand how data circulates in your company. Of course, creating an appropriate workflow for data is not easy – you might even experience blowback from employees. But it is worth the effort considering the consequences of the laissez-faire approach to data protection. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to establish a proper workflow to protect sensitive data.
Monitoring Access To Sensitive Data On The Cloud
A 2017 survey by Intel Security revealed that more than 60% of businesses use Cloud storage services to secure sensitive customer information. Cloud storage is convenient; it saves space, time, and money. However, to truly protect customer information on cloud storage, you need to control and monitor access.
Unfortunately, monitoring and controlling access to cloud storage is not as straightforward as it is with on-premise storage. Yet, the lack of monitoring presents significant risks:
- Lack of knowledge on where the data is located
- Not knowing who has access
- Not having control on who can edit the data
To monitor access to sensitive data in cloud storage, consider the following measures:
- Securing access to confidential information
- Implementing Privileged Access Management (PAM) to limit access
- Continually monitoring audit access to data
- Building an efficient incident-report strategy
In this article, Marcel Gogan of Ekran System provides useful insights on how to control and monitor access to sensitive data in the cloud.
Third-Party Vendor Monitoring
Often, maintaining IT infrastructure requires involving third-party vendors. When a third-party has network access, they can compromise your company’s data. In fact, according to a 2018 survey by Ponemon Institute, more than 50% can attribute their data breaches to third-party vendors.
A third party that has access to your network system can steal sensitive data and even damage your IT infrastructure. Using third-party IT services is inevitable. So, what you need to do is monitor and control their access. For instance, you could temporarily suspend their access to your premise and network systems and only allow access when they are actively working on a project.
Monitor Employee Activities And Instantly Respond To Suspicious Behavior
In 2018 Accenture reported that about 69% of organizations had experienced insider threat incidents. Knowingly or unknowingly, employees can compromise your data. For that reason, you need to monitor their activity. Suspicious behavior includes transferring significant amounts of data to external drives, abnormally frequent late-night shifts, or even producing more printouts than usual.
Thanks to advancements in technology, monitoring employee behavior is not a cumbersome process. You can invest in quality employee monitoring software. These programs come equipped with context analysis capabilities, which can detect more subtle suspicious behavior such as searching hacking-related topics, a decline in work-related activities, and angry sentiments expressed in online chats.
Strict BYOD Policies
According to a survey by Citrix Mobility, about 68% of employees access company data on their smartphones. Inarguably BYOD (bring your own device) helps improve productivity and saves the company money on purchasing mobile devices for employees. However, BYOD presents the risk of unauthorized access to data.
But, with a strict BYOD policy, you can mitigate the risk so that employees can securely access sensitive data. Of course, employees must use passwords to access the company’s network. Provide your employees with guidelines on how to create strong passwords.
Also, you should make software and security updates mandatory, so mandatory that employees are held accountable for not adhering.
Cultivate A Security Culture
When everyone in your company appreciates the importance of security, implementing policies, and preventing security attacks becomes easier. There are two steps involved in creating and maintaining a security culture:
Security Policies: Create effective security policies that reduce the risk of unauthorized access. Such policies include password policies (complex passwords and regular password changes), VPNs to secure internal networks, and two-factor authentication.
Educating employees: Educate your employees on your security policies and the importance of security. Also, continually update their training to conform to recent changes.
Data breaches are almost inevitable. What you need to do is protect the sensitive data the best you can using the methods outlined above and keeping up with the latest cybersecurity practices.