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Criminals do not care which company they steal data from, regardless if they’re big or small. In 2017, a significant data breach occurred at Equifax, affecting 147.9 million consumers and exposing their personal data. The company said the breach started around mid-May but did not discover the breach until July 29th that same year.

We’ll discuss in this article the best practices to prevent data breaches and data breach security measures.

What is data breach

Data breaches are intentional or unintentional breaches in security.

This happens when cyber hackers or criminals exploit a weakness in an organization’s network defense to use stolen data without authorization.

A data breach can occur in the form of the following:

  • a brute force attack
  • malware, or
  • spear-phishing

and can push further until the attacker reaches the server and either steals the intended data or damage the server that hosts it.

How do data breaches happen?

A data breach often starts at the endpoint of a network, whether it’s a workstation or mobile device.

What causes a data breach?

Three things cause data breaches:

  • Human error
  • Process failure
  • Malicious

Human error is sometimes referred to in the work environment as operator error. They carelessly leave their ID card in their card reader without physically being present at their workstation.

This habit leaves a potential insider threat to access the machine.

Process failure happens when an organization purchases a CND (computer network defense) solution but does not keep it up to date and stay on top of policy enforcement when it comes to personnel and enterprise management.

It is also possible for a business to buy security products but never implement them in their network.

Malicious codes, meanwhile, account for over 50% of data breaches within networks.

Never compromise security
for convenience, choose both!

Other Types of Data Breaches

Hacking is a small subset within the malicious category since they manage to breach successfully due to gaining computer access by stealing default passwords or merely guessing weak ones.

Major news outlets reported on breaches in the past. However, they have become more frequent recently that they are now commonplace.

There are more than 390,000 strains of malware items daily, targeting not only Windows machines but also Macs and Linux computers.

There isn’t a heavy focus on anti-virus solutions for computers with these operating systems that is why these platforms’ infection rate is highly successful.

Social engineering is another type of malicious breach, where a person emails or calls someone at the company and pretending to be someone they’re not.

This breach can come in the form of phishing emails. Learn more about phishing here.

Statistics show that roughly 30 percent of users open phishing emails, with another 12 percent opening attachments contained within them.

Education and training is a necessity in this continually persistent threat.

Effects of a data breach

The effects of data breaches can be damaging and far-reaching. People lose trust in an organization as the latter’s reputation diminishes.

Most high-profile breaches that occurred go as high as nine figures, affecting an organization’s executive level.

Companies affected by these data breaches continue to uncover costs borne by these breaches: such as increased acquisition costs, lost business opportunities, and loss of trust by investors and consumers.

It is essential for security managers to work with executives to develop and implement data breach security measures.

Tips to prevent data breaches

The following are the best practices to prevent data breaches:

Records maintenance/upkeep

Retain only the data you need; you should have a process where information is periodically reviewed and updated or destroyed if no longer needed.

Safeguard data

Keep physical records containing personally identifiable information (PII) within a secure space. Give access only to those with a need-to-know, and vet your personnel via background checks.

Temporary vendors or workers should never have access to PII on customers or employees.

Keep procedures current

Never use Social Security numbers as a form of identification under the 1974 Privacy Act. Use a separate ID system as a means of identification for employees.

Destruction/disposal

Shred/cross-cut hard copy paper files before disposing of anything containing PII. If necessary, destroy any portable media such as CDs/DVDs. Note that deleting files does not remove data from a system.

You either need specialized software to wipe data from the hard drive permanently or magnetize and destroy the hard drive physically to prevent data from being recovered.

Be aware that multi-function devices with photocopy capability can also retain data; they need to be configured to clear out data after each use.

Computer usage

Restrict workstations for business use; never let employees install software or use peer-to-peer file-sharing programs.

Do not allow the installation of unauthorized software, and use firewalls to block unauthorized websites.

Computer security

For the individual workstations, enforce a PIN/password and time-out policy that requires login after a certain amount of inactivity.

Train your personnel to never leave the company computers unattended. Official telecommunications should be kept to company workstations only.

Training

Have a written policy on hand on data and privacy security, and disseminate it to all employees within the organization.

Remind employees to log off their workstations and secure files within their filing cabinets before the end of the day.

Educate them on their responsibility to protect files that contain confidential or sensitive data.

Security software updates

Keep your workstations, servers, and other associated devices up-to-date with the latest security patches. It makes criminals’ lives more difficult and yours easier.

Encrypted transmission

Make it a standard practice for your personnel to send encrypted emails if they contain sensitive data.

Media protection

Inventory all media within the premises, such as CDs, flash/hard drives, as they can be stolen easily unless kept under lock and key.

The Bottom Line

Your company’s data is one of its most valuable assets. Implementing a security solution does not have to be a complicated process. Bolster your company’s security today by implementing some of the security practices above to provide a safe and secure network.

How Teamstack Can Help

Cyberattacks need to be taken seriously. Teamstack can help you build up your company’s defenses against such attacks.

We are a cloud identity management system that couple with commonly used apps including Dropbox, Zoom, G Suite, and hundreds of other programs to securely manage employee data and prevent unauthorized access to company data.

Teamstack contains a variety of tools that allow your company’s team members to securely log onto these applications with ease and without compromising security.