How To Prevent Data Breaches

November 16, 2023

How To Prevent Data Breaches in Your Organization

Information and data on a corporate and consumer level are critical to any enterprise. The resources requireimpenetrable security, but with technology’s rapid evolution and the perseverance of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, penetrations — more specifically, data breaches — remain a risk.

Data exposure is common, withover 6 millionreported cases in the first quarter of 2023 alone. Companies must learn how to prevent data breaches to ensure secure operations and maintain consumer trust.

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How To Prevent Data Breaches in 7 Steps

Data breaches stem from many problems, from recently discovered vulnerabilities to missteps within an organizational structure or IT design. The cost of a data breach is, on average,$4.35 million, up 2.6% from findings in 2021.

To avoid financial and reputational mishaps, businesses must adopt healthy security practices and design data breach prevention strategies. Data protection is paramount, and despite the continued risk of the criminal element, organizations can take seven practical steps to improve security compliance and continuity.

1. Employee Training

Human error isresponsible for 88%of data breach incidents. A well-designed phishing email or social engineering ploy can lead to a single oversight, providing access to an entire digital infrastructure.

While any employee can make a mistake, not all are willing to admit it. A lack of admission is often more problematic than the initial mistake. If an employee takes responsibility for an error immediately after recognizing it, the IT team can step in to patch or resolve the problem.

Employee training can help avoid many common problems. By educating employees about best practices, informing them of proper hierarchies and protocols, and updating them on current and common threats, organizations can teach them how to prevent data breaches.

2. Introduce Vulnerability Management and Risk Assessment

Internet users and IT professionals continually find CVEs. In 2022,over 25,000new CVEs were reported, the highest annual reporting to date. From January to April 2023, only a four-month window, 7,489 reportings occurred.

Every vulnerability represents a risk to a company and its precious data. Vulnerability management is an ongoing process for assessing, identifying, reporting, and resolving or patching CVEs across systems, workloads, and endpoints; it is a form of risk assessment with actions.

For the process to work, a company must identify locations of sensitive information and inventory data sets. Without an accurate mapping of data, businesses remain vulnerable to zero-day attacks — exploitations of existing system vulnerabilities without patches.

3. Secure Network Perimeter and Endpoints

The network perimeter is the boundary between a company’s locally managed network and the internet. To secure the perimeter, a company must use firewalls, intrusion prevention and detection systems, and access control lists to fortify network operations.

Endpoints represent physical devices with access to a network. Devices may include desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, servers, and virtual machines. With the rise of remote work and distributed workloads, security often falls outside the limits of perimeter security measures.

Endpoint security is essential to broaching the how to prevent data breaches dilemma. Malware detection software and other endpoint security controls have never been more critical.

4. Restrict Access and Authority

Individuals often unintentionally compromise data or digital infrastructure. To reduce the likelihood of human error, organizations should limit who has access to information. While all employees may need access to the company system, they don’t all need to see personnel files or financial information.

The more general access a company provides, the more vulnerabilities it invites into its system. Business leaders must be selective when offering the authority to access and change sensitive data.

If an enterprise wants to allow open access to employees, it should consider restricting the information it stores. For example, the business could stop storing consumer credit card information. However, creating a system hierarchy with different user roles and permissions is generally more feasible.

5. Improve Authentication Practices

One meaningful way employees can learn how to prevent data breaches is through current password policies. Many businesses have their employees use multifactor authentication — a multi-step login process requiring more than a password, such as an answer to a security question or a fingerprint.

If a company chooses not to use multifactor authentication, it can instead implement more deliberate and restrictive password requirements. The business may require minimum password lengths or make using special characters, numbers, and upper and lowercase letters mandatory. It can also enforce a necessary password change every 60 to 90 days.

Regardless of the authentication process, companies should lock out or freeze accounts that attempt to access the system too many times unsuccessfully. If an employee triggers a lockout, IT security members should investigate the issue.

6. Eliminate Data Silos

Data silos isolate specific data sets from the rest of an organization. The data is only accessible and managed by a single business unit or department.

On the surface, siloing may sound like an excellent tool for how to prevent data breaches, but it has many problems. This type of design can reduce transparency and collaboration, create team barriers and tensions, increase costs while decreasing productivity, and lead to a poor consumer experience.

All the problems associated with data silos lead to adaptability concerns. If any part of an organization’s digital infrastructure lags behind the rest, it can create vulnerabilities and potential access points. The more silos a company incorporates into its digital landscape, the more muddied the infrastructure becomes.

7. Audit and Reassess

Approaches to data security and compliance are constantly evolving because businesses and industries are ever-changing. Companies are always onboarding new talent or growing; industries frequently adopt new digital tools and methodologies.

Becoming complacent with information management and infrastructure results in outdated security measures and practices, increasing the risks of data breaches. Companies must constantly audit and reassess their current strategies to meet modern demands and security threats.

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How To Prevent Data Breaches With Continuous Compliance Software

Information security is the answer to how to prevent data breaches.  Lowering security risks is about more than standard security protocols; it’s also about reducing human error and eliminating existing barriers to collaboration and workflow. Companies can focus on employee training and securing internal and exterior infrastructure.Contact Compylto learn about the automated, all-in-one information security and compliance solution, and discover the benefits of a continuously monitoring, high-visibility, and flexible platform.

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