No matter the size of your business or the industry you operate in, data breaches are becoming more prevalent. According to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, 50% of companies surveyed experienced a data breach within the past year. The amount of time and money it takes to recover from a breach can be devastating to a company. Here are 5 strategies your organization can implement to reduce the risk of a data breach:
1. Evaluate your existing security measures. Having a layered defense is the best approach to protecting your data. Next generation firewalls, email encryption, secure file sharing, and antivirus software are some of the most effective ways to defend your data on the network.
If you’re hosting or backing up data to the cloud, it’s important to have a layer of physical security as well. The data center should have measures in place to restrict access to a specified list of authorized personnel. Access should be granted after validating at least two factors, such as fingerprint and access code. Additionally, consider a provider that is SOC2 compliant, as it is recognized as one of the highest standards of cloud security and availability excellence in the IT industry.
2. Implement and enforce strong security policies and procedures. Developing and training your employees on security policies is essential to ensuring your information remains secure. Security policies should clearly define standards for acceptable use, access requirements, password requirements, fraud prevention, and many other security details. Training should be conducted as policies are updated, and annual refresher training should be mandatory. The security policies and procedures should be supported and enforced by company leadership. All employees should be required to acknowledge they have received the initial security policy and any updates that occur.
3. Develop an incident response team. Even with all the prevention tactics and defenses available, there’s still a chance you’ll experience a data breach. It brings up several questions such as: How can we protect the existing data and information that hasn’t yet been compromised? What financial implications will our company be faced with as a result of the data breach? How will we win back the trust of our customers or patients?
The answers to these questions are not easy to figure out and require strategy and discussion. Acting within the first 24 hours of discovering a breach is critical to your recovery. Put together a team of key leaders who will act accordingly in the event of a data breach. Assign roles and responsibilities to each team member to ensure all aspects of response are covered. Each role is vital to providing a unified response in the event your company should experience a data breach.
4. Train employees to identify suspected breaches. Knowledge is power. Educate your staff on the seriousness of a data breach. Provide examples of what a possible breach would look like. It’s important that all employees know the procedure for reporting a data breach to the proper personnel within your organization.
5. Develop and maintain a data retention policy. Data retention is necessary for several regulated industries in order to remain compliant. It’s important to retain your data in a secure manner. In some cases, sensitive or internal information should be destroyed in a secure manner. Locked paper shredders are a simple way to ensure documents are disposed of securely. All archiving solutions should be encrypted and access should be limited to authorized IT personnel.
The most damaging effect of a data breach is the loss of patient or customer trust, which will severely impact your business operations. These 5 steps are just a few of the ways you can prevent a breach from occurring or mitigate the impact of a breach should an incident occur. For more information on secure solutions to protect your data and network, contact us today.