If you are a business with an online presence – which in 2022 you most definitely are – then you generate vast amounts of data. This data includes customer data, invoicing, web presence data, eCommerce data, user logins to your web portals, your in-house web applications etc. And in natural consequence, preventing data breaches is a very demanding concern placed on your business.
Remember, a data breach directly affects the people whose data is vulnerable, but indirectly affects your business every time in the form of loss of reputation and further business. Therefore, we are going over the best practices for businesses for preventing data breaches.
5 Best Practices for Preventing Data Breaches
Understand Government Laws for Data Protection
In the USA, the strictness and adherence to data protection laws varies from state to state but large-scale attacks fall under the jurisdiction of federal agencies.
In Europe, data protection laws are very stringent and GDPR compliance is mandatory. Authorities are empowered to take strict action in case of non-compliance or criminal activity.
In India, a majority of the clauses for data protection are covered under the IT Act 2000. In our country, local cybercrime divisions of law enforcement agencies are enabled to take action in cases of individual or small-scale business data breaches. In case an organization working with governmental agencies falls prey to a data breach, the Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In) steps.
Data breach incidents are liable to in GDPR is not mandatory in India, breach of GDPR Is actionable in case an Indian agency is working with European organizations and GDPR non-compliance is observed.
Having an understanding of these provisions is the first basic step in preventing data breaches because it prevents panic from setting in. There are things you can do to comply with data protection laws which will automatically improve your data security.
And in case data breaches do happen, you now know that there are laws in place to help you tide through.
Nothing more, nothing less, than what is needed
Every minute piece of data that you are maintaining is an overhead for you to protect. Keep track of what kind of data you are collecting and storing. Discard everything that you don’t need so you only have to deal with protecting data you absolutely need.
Also, be mindful about your organization’s data retention policies. Some certifications like the ISO certification have regulations that require you to maintain historic data. Becoming well-versed with these regulations will indicate how long you need to store your data. Beyond a point when data is no longer needed, avoid storing data as it is just additional responsibility to prevent breaches.
Protect sensitive data with strong passwords
A strong password policy is vital to any security strategy. With people now accessing data from diverse devices and from home environments, weak passwords are an open invitation to trouble.
An uncrackable password is an underrated tool in preventing data breaches. Our guide on password strength will help you assess how your password policy will fare in the face of data breach attempts.
Keep insecure data transfers in check
Data is not just vulnerable when it is stored; it also a target while in transit. You maybe securing your database servers under strict monitoring and protection and your clouds enforced with maximum security. But is data being unceremoniously transferred through portable media like USBs or laptop-to-laptop movements? Are your backup mechanisms just as secure as your actual data applications?
These minute details often trip up companies. Keep a tab on where and how your data is traveling. If employees are working remotely, restrict unauthorized access for them, and enforce strict protocols for using portable media.
Data Elimination Policies
If I am just going to delete the data, how does security matter? Well, the same thing is true of paper documents that go in the trash. Why pass them through a shredder first? Because trash can be dug around, and information can be leaked.
Three primary ways exist for thorough data elimination:
- Data overwriting involves replacing old data with new data.
- The degaussing technique erases magnetic fields of storage media devices.
- The last one is actual physical destruction of data which follows the same principles of paper shredding which we talked about. It is the destruction of storage disks etc.
All of these are potent mechanisms, to be fine-tuned and used as per your organization’s data volume and sensitivity.