As business shifts to online platforms, data security takes priority for any organization and more so small-businesses that can suffer total wipeout in the event of a cyber-attack. Vital client records, production systems, and financial operations can be corrupted or stolen if proper data protection is not enforced.
For as long as you use digital networks for your operations in whatever industry, you face the risk of a data security breach. Ensure your data compliance standards are in line with legal requirements like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Here is how to use these six most effective data security techniques to protect your assets.
1. Data encryption
Storing sensitive data in plaintext format makes it easy for hackers to use it once they access your system. Encrypt all data or at least the most sensitive one on your devices to avoid malicious use.
Encryption involves the translation of standard data into another format or code that requires a key or password to read. The most vulnerable data that require encryption comprises emails, passwords, user names, text messages (SMS), and databases.
However, you can add to this list any other data you consider vital to your business, including intellectual property.
Encrypt personal data in your system, especially that of employees and customers. Evaluate all data in your system, picking out for encryption any data that could adversely harm the company reputation if exposed.
Equally important is information on financial operations that could cause loss to your business. Encryption may not be foolproof but is at least deterrent and remember to safeguard the decryption keys.
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2. Set up strong passwords and firewalls
Control access through the use of strong passwords across the system. This is the most simple and easiest security measure anyone can and must put in place. Passwords with mixed characters offer strong protection, unlike those that use birthdates or parts of names, as they are easy to guess.
Combining numbers, symbols, and letters in caps and lower case in a stretch of 8-12 characters makes a strong password. Assign all users individual usernames and passwords for accountability and recommend changes every 90 days or so.
Set up strong firewalls, including AI for data security to monitor network traffic flow to allow or block undesirable access. There are many options of Next-Generation Firewalls to choose from but installing the Threat-focused NGFW (next-generation firewall) should serve your security interests better.
The use of AI-driven security tools enhances preemptive measures through automation and the provision of real-time analytics. AI solutions use machine learning to isolate normal activities from hostile intrusions giving IT team time to react.
3. Data masking
Data masking or anonymization replaces correct data with different characters while retaining form, especially for internal use to prevent misuse. A good example is in the use of personally identifiable information (PII) and credit cards.
The technical writers at Australian assignment help and Academized share some crucial details on this. According to them, actual numerical characters are substituted or shuffled around to generate different numbers in the same format that looks genuine. It could also involve the replacement of some numbers by asterisks, for example, so that only the card owner knows the correct numbers. Anyone using such altered information will obviously be denied access.
Data masking is now demanded by the European Union through the enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the protection of citizen’s rights. Masking is especially useful against internal threats where employees could be tempted to use client data available to them at work criminally.
It also protects data shared across departments from abuse as it displays only what is necessary for the user. Data masking is not only a good security measure but also one that complies with legal requirements.
4. Residual data erasure
Residual data leakage is one security threat least addressed by IT teams but frequently exploited by cybercriminals. It is standard practice for organizations to dispose of old devices that include laptops, smartphones, servers, and desktop computers.
These devices have been in use across the organization and their disks contain critical and sensitive information, especially personally identifiable information (PII) easily retrievable by wrong people for misuse.
To protect against residual data leakage, carry out a thorough sanitization of all media marked for disposal. This can be done through the use of data erasure tools at the premises by the IT team. Using software for erasure ensures foolproof results, unlike previously common shredding and degaussing methods.
Data erasure software has an added advantage allowing reuse of devices once sanitized. Alternatively, a trusted IT Asset Disposition Vendor could sanitize devices no longer needed. ITADs have better infrastructure, especially when large quantities of devices are involved and have experience in managing end-of-life or used assets.
5. Optimize data backup options
It is important to have copies of your data files off-site for added security in case you are breached and your system ransomed or corrupted by cybercriminals. You can backup your data in a different physical location away from business premises or in cloud servers.
Backup data can mean the difference between business collapse and continuity when criminals wipe out or corrupt your system. Backing up should be done instantaneously for critical information in real-time.
Naturally, maximize network, physical, and system security as your first line of defense. Next, you institute backup measures, especially the 3-2-1 rule that comprise 3 copies, 2 formats, and 1 off-site backup.
Observing these backup protocols ensures you have clean pre-breach data to continue operations as your IT team addresses the hacking incident. If you have no backup, it means you will solely rely on data recovery that may or may not restore data in its original state and takes some time.
6. Establish resilience measures
Shutting down your business following a security breach could be a worse calamity than the attack itself. You may lose a substantial number of customers by the time you resume including diminished trust.
Goodwill is essential in business and you must demonstrate reliability and strength in the face of adversity. This means that as you put in place data security measures establish plans for continuity in the event of a data breach.
To develop good resilience measures, you must have a thorough understanding of how your data networks operate. It may help to work with an IT expert to get this right. Evaluate and merge business and technical strategies across the organization to come out with a blueprint for differentiated data protection.
With stricter control of vital data assets, it is possible to protect these from hacks and to continue with business in the face of attacks that may have affected less sensitive data. Resilience means you do not shut down a business; rather, you survive the attacks.
Losses from cyber-attacks are estimated in millions of dollars worldwide and the threat is not about to abate. Invest in the latest methods and software for data security to protect your business and privacy of your clients. Teach employees safe online use and proactive defense.
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