A record number of data breaches (1,862) happened in the US in 2021, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.
The previous record was set in 2017, with 1,507 data breaches happening that year.
If that was not bad enough, the figure set in 2021 represents a 68 percent increase when compared with the year before.
This shows that data security issues are still very much prevalent today. In fact, they're only becoming more common. There are many reasons why this is the case. But, ultimately, it comes down to the fact that hackers are getting more sophisticated and businesses are not doing enough to protect their data.
Considering that, we are going to take a look at some of the different ways you can improve data security in your workplace below:
There is only one place to begin when it comes to data security, and this is with compliance. After all, there are many rules and regulations that you need to adhere to. This makes it a logical starting point for your data security policies and practices.
For example, you have the GDPRs RoPA requirement, which is just one of the rules implemented under GDPR in terms of handling data. With this requirement, you need to keep records of all of your processing activities. Not only is this a legal must but it can help you in terms of self-auditing as well.
Not only do you have GDPR to consider but there are other rules and regulations around the world. Whether or not you need to adhere to them will depend on where you are based and where your customers are based. Examples include POPI, LGPD, CCPA, and much more.
If you're not sure where to even begin when it comes to data compliance, it makes sense to work with a security expert who will be able to do an audit on your business so they can figure out what regulations are imperative, where your vulnerabilities lie, and what can be done to fix this.
Did you know that 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches happen because of a human mistake? This is something quite a lot of people are shocked to discover. However, if you do not train your employees in cybersecurity, how do you expect them to enact data security best practices?
A lot of business owners simply assume that their employees know what to do when it comes to protecting data. However, this is not always the case.
You would be surprised by how many people are using simple, easy-to-guess passwords. A lot of people also use the same password for all of their accounts, meaning that if a hacker were to guess your employee's password for their email or an online shopping account, they could effectively get access to everything, including your employee's credentials to enter your business network.
This is why it is critical to make sure that all of your employees receive basic cybersecurity training at the minimum. They should learn about data access, how to choose a secure password, and all of the other safety measures that are required to protect data.
Aside from this, you should make sure that employees understand why this is so important. Knowing the consequences will help employees to realize why this is something they need to take seriously.
One of the biggest issues a lot of businesses have is that they cannot protect something if they do not know it is in their possession.
There are many companies that have masses of data, stored in various places, without any organization or consideration. This is how data breaches happen. Hackers find a way into your business by accessing data you did not even know you had.
This is why it is imperative to make the most of data categorization tools. Not only will this gather all of your data in one place, but it will ensure that it is organized based on security, with the highest risk and most confidential pieces of data getting the lowest employee access and the highest security controls.
You first need to know what data you have got and the nature of it if you are going to be able to protect it.
The trouble with data security in the modern-day is that there is no magic fix. There's no one singular solution that you can simply install to erase all of your security fears.
Instead, your approach to data security needs to be multi-layered. You need to use a number of different approaches to give your business the highest level of protection.
Firstly, encryption is imperative. This will ensure that your data is transferred to an unreadable code whenever it is being stored or sent. So, even if someone were to hack your system, they would not be able to read the data.
Aside from this, you need to make the most of various security products, from anti-virus software to firewalls.
We also highly recommend network segregation. If a hacker were to gain access to your network, would they be able to access everything from your social media to your PoS systems? If so, this means that the damage you could suffer is limitless. However, if you segregate your network, hacking one part of it won't mean access to all of the elements of your business, enabling you to isolate the issue and minimize the damage.
You also need to update software regularly. If you are prompted to update a tool, do it immediately. Don't wait.
When developers release a software update, it is typically because they have patched a security vulnerability they have found within their system. Therefore, if you do not update your solution straight away, you are leaving your business at risk.
Get into the habit of running software updates automatically so that this is not something you need to worry about.
When putting together a data security strategy for your business, you need to determine the level of potential risk your business has to deal with. Some of the questions you should ask yourself are as follows:
This will help you to understand your business landscape from a data perspective so that you can get a handle on the risks you face.
You also need to look at the vulnerabilities your business has. Compare what applications and systems you are using for protection against what is currently available on the market.
We know that investing in new protection costs money but you need to be honest with yourself. If your defenses are weak or outdated, it is time to spend money on upgrading them.
Yes, it may cost you money now but it could save you thousands, if not millions, of dollars in the form of compensation to your customers, non-compliance fines, and the cost of rebuilding your reputation if you were to suffer a data breach.
One service that you may want to consider to enhance data protection at your business is penetration testing. If you have never heard of penetration testing before, this is also known as ethical hacking. It basically involves getting someone 'good' to hack your network before someone 'bad' does.
An ethical hacker will try to hack into your system. However, rather than doing this for malicious reasons, they do this for the purpose of helping you to secure your business effectively.
If they are able to successfully hack your business, they will be able to tell you exactly how they did so, enabling you to understand the vulnerabilities your business currently has. They will then inform you of the steps that need to be put into place to patch this vulnerability so that a malicious hacker does not end up taking advantage of it.
As you can see, there is a lot that needs to be considered when it comes to enhancing data security at your business. However, this is something you need to commit to and continue to work on.
It is vital to realize that cybercriminals are getting more and more sophisticated, meaning you simply cannot afford to remain stagnant when it comes to data security. You need to continuously work on this part of your business to ensure optimal protection.