Each day, it’s becoming more difficult for individuals and businesses to protect their data. Is this because individuals and companies lack the knowledge to protect business data, or are hackers getting smarter? Either way, it’s time for corporations to do better.
Data protection matters. Especially when 84% of consumers are loyal to companies with solid cybersecurity controls.
You know that it’s essential to keep your company’s sensitive data safe from cyberattacks, but how do you do it? Keep reading as we discuss what data protection means, why a strategy is vital, and tips for keeping yourself and your business safe.
What Is Data Protection?
Data protection is a set of processes and strategies organizations use. These processes secure the privacy, integrity, and availability of their data. This includes providing the capability and steps to restore lost data should something happen that renders data unusable or inaccessible. Data protection is also sometimes called information privacy or data security.
Data protection measures ensure data is only accessible for authorized purposes. It guarantees that information is not corrupted. It also keeps you in compliance with local and federal regulatory requirements. When utilized for its intended purpose, protected data should be made available when needed.
Why Is It Vital to Have a Data Protection Strategy?
Organizations must demonstrate integrity, transparency, and security in each stage of processing and collecting data. By taking these precautions, you can develop customer trust in your company’s handling of sensitive data. A strategic commitment to protecting the privacy of your customers is critical to building that trust. For these reasons, data protection measures should be implemented as a core part of your business’s overall strategy.
Yet, crafting the perfect data protection strategy can challenge most businesses. This is true for even larger enterprises. In recent years, data breaches have continually increased in number and size. These breaches have a dramatic impact on the finances and reputations of affected companies.
The average cost of a data breach today is nearly $4 million—a number that has been on the rise for several years. Across the first six months of 2021, there are a total of 1,767 reported data breaches across the business world. These breaches accounted for the exposure of 18.8 billion records.
Cybercrime continues to become more sophisticated. Regulatory entities are tasked with creating more strict data privacy legislation that affects individuals and companies globally. Many regulations require companies to establish explicit rules and measures for how they intend to protect private information.
Sometimes complying with data privacy measures requires significant changes to corporate culture and business processes. Without a solid strategy in place, achieving these changes can be challenging. Let’s take a look at eight data protection tips that may help.
1. Minimize Data Collection and Use
When capturing and consuming data, your company should only use the necessary information. Of course, sometimes profiling for marketing use is unavoidable. However, remember that the data may be just as effective when pseudonymized. In some cases, specific fields, such as someone’s title, may not be needed at all.
When consuming personal data, only request what information you need. For example, if someone only needs to work in the medical field to access a particular service, there’s no need to ask for their title or what level of education they’ve achieved.
2. Use Cloud Services When Possible
When used correctly, the cloud can provide an ideal solution for backing up sensitive company data. Plus, cloud data is easily accessible even if your company’s hardware becomes compromised because it’s not stored on a local device.
When data is kept off-site by a provider using cloud storage, you’ll be able to guarantee disaster recovery for your company.
3. Encourage Strong Passwords
Your company’s data protection is only as strong as your weakest password. If one of your employees uses a weak password, the private information of your entire organization, your clients, and your partners is at stake.
When making up passwords, many people fail to be creative. Instead, they use weak combinations of numbers and letters that are simple for hackers to guess or decipher. On the list of “Top 10 Most Common Passwords,” you’ll find “123456,” “qwerty,” “password,” and other common examples. If you see your password on this list, you should think about creating a new, stronger one immediately.
When creating a password, use the following actionable tips:
- Use a combination of symbols, letters, numbers
- Use random letters so that it’s harder to guess a word
- Don’t use the same password across programs, services, and other websites
- Don’t write passwords down—especially in the workplace
- Use password managers that provide credible password encryption and protection
By following the tips above, your employees will have stronger passwords, which will keep your company data safer.
4. Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) makes it more difficult for hackers to infiltrate your company’s data infrastructure. Hackers will likely give up trying to attack you since MFA requires that someone spend more time and effort to gain control over private information.
MFA is composed of several vital factors, including information known to the user (which is the password), the protection element available (called a security token), and a biometric element (like a fingerprint). Combining these factors leads to several levels of protection. Cybercriminals are discouraged from jacking networks and databases that MFA protects. This is why MFA is a core element for safely operating company platforms.
As an example of MFA in action, Etsy developed an MFA security solution using smartphones rather than typical security tokens. Similarly, Bank of America sends a verification code to customers’ mobile phones through a third-party service. To access mobile banking, their customers must enter the six-digit code on their website when logging in.
6. Inventory Your Data
How can you ensure data protection if you don’t understand what data you have, where it is stored, and how it is handled?
You can’t. This is why your policies should define how private data is collected and consumed. For example, you should determine how frequently your systems scan for data and how information is classified once collected.
Your organization’s privacy policies must clearly specify what protections are required for each data privacy level. Your policies should also define processes for auditing protections so that your proposed solutions are applied correctly.
7. Backup Your Data
Backing up data is an essential data protection tip that is often overlooked.
Backing up your data creates a duplicate copy. If a device or hard drive is stolen, lost, or compromised, you don’t lose essential company information—or consumer data. Backups should be a regular part of your data recovery plan, but it’s not enough to just establish a plan. You must also test your plan on a regular schedule so that you’re not left vulnerable in the event of a disaster.
8. Educate Your Organization
Our final tip is to express the importance of educating your organization on data protection. From knowing when not to disclose personal information to handling and storing data, your team needs to be educated on how to do this safely. They need to be familiar with local and federal laws, company security policies, and everything in between.
It would help if you taught your employees about social engineering attacks. There is a wide range of malicious activities hackers use to obtain private information. Hackers and other people who use these tactics seek to manipulate their victims. They are patient when collecting data over a long period and then strike when the user least expects it.
Social engineering activities are caused by human error, not by operating system and software vulnerabilities. To protect your business, you must keep a few things in mind.
Reject Requests for Personal Information
If an unknown person contacts an employee at your organization to ask them to open an email containing links or files, it is a scam. They’re hoping to gain access to your data. Remind your employees to check the sender and do not open unexpected emails or contain foreign links or files.
Set Up Spam Filters
If you set up spam filters correctly, you can prevent your team from receiving dangerous, unwanted emails. Yet, sometimes wanted emails can end up in spam filters. Remind your team to check their spam periodically to avoid missing important messages.
Be Ready to Take Risks and Consider Possible Outcomes
It’s essential to remain well-informed of the latest cybersecurity news, including recent breaches. This is so you’re aware of what might affect your company. To be safe, listen to podcasts on cybersecurity topics or read newsletters to stay in the know.
Searching for a Data Protection Solution?
The responsibility of data protection falls in the hands of every member of your company. After reading this article, we hope that you won’t neglect basic security rules and talk about potential risks with your employees.
At NETdepot, we’re uniquely capable of managing and hosting private clouds. This capability is due to enhanced flexibility, excellent US-based support, and our expert staff. Our data protection services include disaster recovery, cloud security, and S3 storage. Click here to learn more about our data protection solutions.