Steps Businesses Must Take to Prevent Data Breaches

Frankie Wallace

Cyber-attacks are not something to take lightly as a business. In fact, they can be detrimental to your finances and tarnish your reputation in the process. Within the past five years, the cost of data breaches has increased by 12%, meaning it could cost a business $3.92 million. The financial repercussions of a data breach aren’t easy to recover from, so preventing it from happening may be the best approach. There are different ways that you can reduce the risks of your company upon experiencing a data breach.

Use Antivirus Software

One of the most basic ways for you to prevent a data breach would be for you to get antivirus software. These are computer programs used to prevent malware like viruses or worms. Popular brands include Symantec, Avast, or AVG. There are also certain features you should be looking for in your software if you want the best security. For instance, you want software that has email scanning so it examines incoming emails for malware.

Another necessary feature is a data shredder and encryption, which should help protect sensitive data so that cybercriminals can’t access it. Be sure to update your antivirus software often so that you get the best coverage for your systems.

Train Staff

It would be wrong to assume that all of your employees understand security protocol and the basics of online safety. Indeed, some common protocols include changing passwords often or removing sensitive data files from systems when they’re no longer in use. However, seeing as this isn’t common knowledge to all, cybersecurity should be an integral part of every business’s employee training. When choosing a training program, ensure it covers subjects like cloud service usage, malware awareness, and risk digital communication as threats often come from those areas. Ultimately, you want them to understand best practices for identifying, assessing, and reporting information security threats.

You can also educate your staff by investing in current certifications for all employees. This will ensure they’re able to keep up with the latest trends in cybersecurity and have the fundamentals.

To get employees to care about cybersecurity, make learning interactive. A way to do so would be to perform live-fire training exercises. During such exercises, employees will undergo a cybersecurity attack that is specific to their job role. This is a way to put theory to practice and prepare them to respond to a real attack if it ever occurs. A good example would be to perform regular phishing tests and have fake emails sent to everyone in the organization. As a result of this test, a number of employees who click on these emails will give you data you can use to address problem areas.

Update Passwords Regularly

Password security attacks are a real thing, and this is why you should be updating your password regularly. If not, cybercriminals may easily be able to access your accounts and tamper with sensitive data. There are different approaches you can take to keep your passwords protected. The first one is to avoid personal information or real words when choosing passwords. You should also try a minimum of 10 characters as the longer, the better.

Likewise, it is a good practice to change passwords every month or two, as using them for more extended periods could put you at risk. Also, avoid using the same password for all of your accounts. If you do this and a cyber-criminal breaks into one account, they would have access to the other accounts with that password too. Finally, consider two-step authentication. This would make breaking into your accounts harder, as cyber-criminals have to jump through more hoops.

Avoid Unsecure Networks

Using public wi-fi networks could put your business at risk as they aren’t secure. Advise employees against it, especially if they’re freelance or they work remotely. There are a few ways to prevent information from being transmitted. One would be to only use encrypted sites and avoid mobile apps that require sensitive information. You can tell if a website is encrypted as it tends to begin with https.

Another tip would be to use a virtual private network (VPN), which can encrypt traffic between your computer and the internet. If you have the resources, create a VPN for your employees to use so that they have secure and remote access.

Avoid Personal Devices at Work

When employees use personal devices at work, it can create a risk for your business. If employees bring their phones to work, for instance, hackers could target their devices and use them as gateways to access your data. Put protocols in place that employees have to follow when connecting to their devices at work. Some protocols could be restricting where employees are allowed to use phones, putting protocols in place for reporting lost devices, or providing anti-virus software for their devices. You want to ensure they don’t go beyond the company’s set firewalls. After all, this could make the company more susceptible to attack.

Software Updates

It may seem minuscule, but software updates can play a role in improving your cybersecurity efforts. When software isn’t up to date, it can create opportunities for hackers to penetrate your system. In light of this, don’t ignore the ongoing software update reminders you’re likely to receive. Also, consider software patches that you can download from the software maker’s website. These will fix bugs and can give you an added layer of protection.

Learn From Others

Updating your security plan is something you should do regularly. When creating your cybersecurity strategy, look to how others are addressing data breaches and what tips you can pull from there. For instance, some executives are migrating to the cloud as they find it to be more secure for their data. You can also reduce the risk of a data breach happening to you by learning from past data breaches. A key lesson would be to have a response team in place so they can do damage control if one does ever occur.

It is also essential that you implement cybersecurity compliance as a part of your overall strategy. This will ensure you adhere to relevant cybersecurity policies, laws, and standards in your business.

Data breaches can be a nightmare for you and customers alike. However, it is impossible to control everything that happens online. What you can do is protect your business and put necessary security measures in place.