A data breach exposes confidential information to criminals, who often use it for monetary gain. They can steal personal health records to commit fraud, sell company trade secrets and even make money selling stolen passwords and login information on the dark web.
Using best practices can minimize the chances of a breach, but it’s important to have a plan. Here are the essential steps you should take:
Encryption is a way to encode information to make it unreadable to anyone who does not have the key. It is a critical security measure businesses, and individuals use to keep data safe from hackers. That is why it’s essential to understand how to prevent data breach and plan for the future.
Companies frequently send information back and forth between employees using different devices like phones, tablets, and laptops. It is essential to encrypt data that is in transit. Encryption ensures that unauthorized people cannot intercept data as it is transferred between devices.
Data encryption can also be applied to files and disks within a computer or network storage system. This is known as data at rest encryption. It protects against physical and virtual theft by requiring a PIN, password, or hardware authentication system to access the information.
Many data breaches happen because of employee error, whether through accidental exposure (viewing a sensitive file on a personal device) or malicious actions (hackers and social engineering). This is why implementing a solid password management solution with encryption is crucial for your business.
A data backup is a copy of the original information that can be restored in case of a file deletion, system failure, or other unplanned event. With backups, your personal and business files could be recovered forever. Individuals risk losing irreplaceable photographs, financial records, and other important documents if they don’t have a backup. In contrast, during a disaster, companies can lose customer data or their entire infrastructure.
Most organizations create a backup policy to ensure critical business data is consistently backed up. This helps reduce the time and effort needed to recover from a disaster and meets recovery point objectives (RPOs). However, backups can also be cost-prohibitive, requiring hardware and storage space.
The best backups are automated and run regularly on local and cloud hardware to help minimize the risk of lost data. A backup system is also essential to protect against malware and other cyber attacks.
A backup strategy is typically applied to critical databases and related line-of-business applications, which can be restored during a ransomware attack or a major catastrophe such as a data center fire. For example, many organizations use a disk backup process where the information is copied to a local disk using the software. Using tape as a backup media is expected to have the most long-term data archiving capacity. For these reasons, it’s vital to make backups part of your cybersecurity hygiene.
As a small business owner, you must prioritize information security for employees at all company levels. Educating your team on HOW breaches happen and what security measures they should take to protect themselves from cyberattacks is essential. This includes regularly updating policies, providing phishing scam training modules, and encouraging using VPNs and strong passwords when using public Wi-Fi.
You should also provide training on reporting a data breach based on regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA. Your employees should understand what steps to take when an infringement is discovered, such as determining the source and scope of the breach, conducting forensics, and identifying victims.
Employees should also receive regular training on recognizing phishing and ransomware attacks and fundamental security hygiene rules such as locking laptops when not in use, using strong passwords, and encrypting all devices containing confidential data. If you have remote or mobile employees, you should provide more specific training on keeping personal files secure when working from home or during business trips. This should include a clean-desk policy to ensure no hard copy files are left visible and a shredding service that visits the office at scheduled times to collect and destroy unused documents.
A data breach occurs when sensitive information is exposed unintentionally. This can result from many things, such as employees saving information to non-secure locations or IT staff accidentally exposing an internal server to the Internet. Other reasons include lost or stolen hard copy documents, thumb drives, backups, and other personal information devices.
Once a breach is detected, it’s essential to work with forensic experts to determine what caused the incident and how it could have been prevented. This step involves analyzing backups and preserved data to determine what was compromised, who had access, and whether that access needs to be restricted. It also includes a risk assessment to identify any secondary risks for users and systems that must be addressed.
It’s also essential to notify consumers of the breach. This can be done via email, direct mail, or other means, depending on how the information was exposed. This step includes telling them how to protect themselves, such as contacting the major credit bureaus for fraud alerts and credit freezes. It can also involve providing them with information on how to avoid phishing scams.
Taking the above steps can significantly reduce your small business’s cyberattack vulnerability. However, implementing these basic security protocols isn’t a substitute for a formal incident response plan. If you need help developing one, or if your current plan isn’t working as well as it should, contact us.