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10 Tips to Prevent a Data Breach

Prevent Data Breach

In a report sponsored by IBM, the average cost of a data breach was $4 million. Data breaches are costly but more importantly a breach can cost your company customers. Data breaches are separated into four categories theft, loss, neglect, and insecure practices. There are a number of ways to prevent data breaches. Here is a list of ten ways to secure your data:

1. Devise a Plan at the Executive Level

When developing a data breach prevention plan have all departments involved from the beginning. This helps set expectations and develop guidelines. This is the perfect time to address any concerns and explain the risk involved in certain actions. Planning with the entire organization in mind also helps you have a holistic plan.

2. Develop a Breach Response Strategy

By chance, there is a breach of any size it’s better to have a plan in place to quickly correct it. Your breach response plan should map out different data breach scenarios, solutions, and how to notify your team of the problem.

3. Train your Team

Once you create a plan you need to educate your team. Train every member of your team. Let them know what are the restrictions and policies for employees. This can be extremely important if members of your team remotely access company information.

4. Keep Software Up to Date

Update your software whenever applicable. Hackers are always finding vulnerabilities in software. These updates are specifically created to address and fix these vulnerabilities.

5. Create Strong Passwords

According to Microsoft, the most common password attacks are guessing, online dictionary attack, offline dictionary attack, and offline brute force attack. Each member of your team needs to create a strong password. Microsoft suggests that you create a strong password by doing the following:

  • never use your username
  • use six characters or more
  • use a mix of characters from lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numerals, or symbols

6. Restrict User Permissions

Many organizations have fallen victim to ransomware, even the police. These attacks shut down your computer network until you pay the attackers a ransom. Restricting privileges to certain users in your organization can decrease these risk.

7. Track and Monitor Data

You also need to monitor data intrusions in the log file. To protect your network you need to turn on log file auditing for all hardware and software in your infrastructure. Couple that with a log file monitoring software that can parse these log files and create alerts for any attacks. Then add a log file aggregation tool that will collect all IT log files in a single back-end database. The database will help you easily assess all the information.

8. Secure Network Access

Setup a firewall to prevent outsiders from accessing data on your network. A firewall is defined as a software program or piece of hardware that helps screen out hackers, viruses, and worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet. It acts as a barrier between your network and untrusted networks. If you do allow remote access to your network make sure it is through a properly configured VPN (Virtual Private Network).

9. Encrypt your Data

Use encryption to protect confidential data. Encrypting your data not only helps secure your information on your network but also helps protect information in case of a data leak. Since the files would be converted to ciphertext it could only be decrypted with the correct key.

10. Find a Certified E-waste Recycler

To keep the data on your end-of-life IT equipment secure recycle it with a certified ITAD vendor. Partnering with an e-Steward and R2 certified recycler ensures that your equipment will be disposed of ethically and securely. Vendors that illegally dump or export would leave your old equipment susceptible to criminals. Also, make sure your vendor is D.O.D and NIST compliant. Vendors who are compliant with these standards ensure that data destruction is completed properly.