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How to Protect Your Business From a Data Breach



“The knock-on effect of a data breach can be devastating for a company. When customers start taking their business—and their money—elsewhere, that can be a real body blow.” ~ Christopher Graham


It’s the 21st century—the digital age—where every little bit of data, from consumer records and trade secrets to sales and marketing strategies, shapes how businesses operate and thrive. While protecting your business from a data breach is critical, maintaining personal health under the stress that comes with managing security is equally important. A tdee calculator can help you manage your caloric intake properly, making sure you stay energized and alert while handling intensive tasks.


However, despite the security measures these companies put in place, data breaches still exist and have far-reaching consequences that rattle businesses’ very existence. According to a recent report by IBM, the average data breach cost in 2023 was up 2% to a record-breaking $4.45 million, compared to the previous year’s average of $4.35 million.

Considering these implications, prevention is a guaranteed way to deal with the fallout from a data breach, and in this guide, we will consider ways to stay on guard.


Understanding Data Breaches

Outside of the tech sphere, data breaches aren’t new. In ancient times, homing pigeons that served as messengers of the fleet were sometimes shot down or captured while delivering messages. This happened particularly during times of war when communication was crucial and enemy forces sought to learn about their attackers’ plans and disrupt them.


This unauthorized access to confidential information could tilt the scale in their favor, which is why military forces protected such messengers and the secrets they carried at all costs. The ancient Egyptians, for instance, used hieroglyphics as a form of encryption to conceal their messages—which remained a mystery until 200 years ago, when the Rosetta stone helped solve the puzzle.


Likewise, for contemporary businesses, the theft of highly confidential information can prove just as harmful as they risk losing money, trust, goodwill, and market share. And this act describes a data breach.


What Factors Can Lead to Data Breaches?

Data breaches don’t only result from attacks on highly protected systems by cybercriminals and advanced adversaries. They can happen due to internal errors and oversights—most notably human errors. These include system glitches, outdated tech setups, misconfigured access controls, poor security practices, and social engineering.


These slip-ups may cause the leak of sensitive information, like customer data and employee records, which bad actors may sell on the dark web to the highest bidder.


Ways to Prevent Data Breaches

To maintain business integrity, you need to implement strict measures that protect the inflow, outflow, and storage of information—in other words, the data pipeline.


Educate Your Staff About Cybersecurity Best Practices

The most likely point of entry in a data breach is through an employee, who may innocently click on a malicious phishing link or email attachment, divulge personal or business information at the slightest request, install a harmful program (malware) in the company’s system, or leave sensitive hard-copy files unsecured in their workspaces.


Ensure your employees are aware of the severity of such actions, one of which is identity theft. More importantly, they must understand what constitutes a potential data breach in the first place. Cybercriminals are smart, and thus, invent new ways to beat the system. It’s up to your team to keep abreast of their latest tactics and take action against them.


Some cybersecurity best practices include:

·    Employing strong and unique passwords, and regularly updating them.

·    Installing strong anti-virus software and verifying links and attachments before interacting with the sender.

·    Using only work-allocated devices for business purposes and closely monitoring them.

·    Accessing the company’s server and database only through a secured network.

·    Keeping hard copies of confidential information in secured lockers and cabinets.

·    Assessing unusual requests for personal and business data, even those seemingly sent from reliable sources, to prevent social engineering.



Make Sure You Know Who’s Sending You Emails (and Teach Your Employees to Do the Same)

Phishing attacks are no joke. It’s the most common form of cybercrime, with more than 3 billion emails sent every day. Companies, in turn, are particularly susceptible to phishing, especially if employees aren’t properly taught how to tell a phishing email from a legitimate one. 


It takes less than a minute to verify an email address, and it prevents the whole company from suffering the consequences that could’ve been avoided. Simply type in the email address from which you received a (suspicious) message on Nuwber and hit return. The second you do, you’ll find the sender’s full name, contact details, occupation, age, location, and much more. 


Another method is directly reaching out to the person who presumably sent an email. Call them or send them a message and ask if they’re the ones who sent you an email that seems out of place. 


Implement Zero-Trust Policies

Zero-trust security policies place no trust in anyone or anything, even in-house IT specialists who can be hacked and used as an entry point to the organization’s system. With this approach, you can enforce strict identification and authentication protocols that monitor the activities of authorized users before permitting them to access critical business and customer data.


Such protocols implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all internal access points, which confirms an employee’s identity by requiring them to present more than one security credential—usually a security code and biometric scan for security clearance. Furthermore, when an employee forgets a voicemail password, they must follow a stringent verification process to regain access, ensuring the integrity of the security measures in place.


Audit and Reevaluate Current Security Measures

The digital space is consistently evolving, and so must your data protection. This, thus, calls for regular IT audits to monitor the security of all systems to detect potential loopholes and flaws and develop actionable insights. A proper security review entails studying the cybersecurity risks present in your business.


Let’s say you specialize as a general practitioner or health insurance provider, the risk of a data breach in your firm is generally high due to the nature of the information you store—personal and medical records of patients, as well as their billing information, which can endanger their well-being if accessed by the wrong people.


You’ll, therefore, need a certified risk assessor to identify potential breach points in your data storage system. If they truly exist, the professional can fix them by upgrading your software and applying patches.


Comply With the Latest Data Protection Regulations

Almost every business stores sensitive information about the public which, if mishandled, can have a wide-scale impact on society. To err on the side of caution, governments worldwide have stepped up their oversight with data protection laws in every major economy. These laws aim to protect your bottom line and uphold your organization’s reputation since they demonstrate that you take data privacy seriously.


They contain guidelines that help ensure data privacy and prevent possible fines or penalties for breaches. You only need a data protection officer (DPO) to draft a data protection plan and monitor it in line with the law. In California, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) may be your legal framework, whereas if your business operates in the EU, you may adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


Hire an Expert

It’s great if you know a lot about cybersecurity and have the knowledge to prevent a data breach yourself. But what if you don’t? In this case, it’s recommended to hire a security expert, basically a full-time employee who’ll be responsible for everything cybersecurity-related. 


If you can’t afford a full-time employee for your business, don’t cross professionals off your list. It’s possible to find advice from experts online. Blog posts, social media posts, YouTube videos—there are many resources created by those who know a lot about protecting both individuals and organizations. 


Destroy Instead of Throwing Away

Everything that you no longer need that has confidential information must be destroyed. It might seem crazy at first. Like, who would need to read the company’s boring documents with boring numbers and employee names? Many would love to, trust us, especially your competitors. 


A good shredder is now a necessity in the office. Dispose of the documents you don’t need anymore and teach your employees to do the same. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, yet you’ll sleep peacefully at night knowing that no documents are somewhere outside for the whole world to see. 


Learn From Your (and Your Employees’) Mistakes

You must learn from your own mistakes, and you must learn from the mistakes of others. The second something happens in the company, like someone accidentally clicked on a virus link or forgot the password to an important file, don’t wait for this to repeat.


Instead, make sure you check the link the next time or install a password manager to prevent your password from slipping off your mind again. 


Conclusion

Will data breaches continue to exist? Most likely! However, you can definitely take steps to lower the chances of cybercriminals stealing your business information to harm you and your stakeholders. And because every company, regardless of its size, stores customer and employee information, there’s no better way to protect such data than to implement the tips in this guide.

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