5 Effective Ways to Prevent Data Breaches
High-profile data breaches remind us all that data security is a top priority for businesses. If you recently read our security ROI blog, you might have discovered that organizations now face a one in four chance of a data breach that costs approximately $2.21M in the next two years. The aftermath of a breach includes decreased customer loyalty, distrust, a potential loss in revenues, and a negative brand reputation.
In this blog, we share five effective ways how to prevent data breaches with proven methods for prevention.
A visibility of what hardware and software assets you have in your network and physical infrastructure will help you gain a greater understanding of your organization’s security posture. An asset inventory can also be used to build categories and ratings around the threats and vulnerabilities your assets may encounter. Categories and ratings for these vulnerabilities can help you better prioritize the remediation efforts that will take place on these assets.
Data breaches put a major focus on endpoint protection. Antivirus is just not enough to prevent a major data breach. In fact, if you rely just on anti-virus protection you will leave your endpoints, like desktops and laptops, exposed. Your desktops and laptops can become a major gateway for breaches.
A comprehensive endpoint solution will use encryption to prevent data loss and leakage, enforce unified data protection policies across all your servers, networks, and endpoints, thereby reducing the risk of a data breach.
Vulnerability and Compliance Management
Using a vulnerability and compliance management (VCM) tool or at the very least completing a vulnerability assessment will help you identify the gaps, weaknesses, and security misconfigurations within your physical and virtual environments. VCM can continuously monitor your infrastructure and IT assets for vulnerabilities and compliance weaknesses and configuration best practices.
Some of the benefits that will help mitigate a data breach include allowing your security team to better understand the security vulnerability risks of the environment, i.e. Threat Landscape, and priorities around what requires remediation. A good VCM will allow you to create an action plan to remediate these vulnerabilities and assign them to appropriate staff members.
Regular Audits on Security Posture
Completing regular audits to identify potential new gaps in compliance or governance will help in validating your security posture. A security audit will be more a more thorough assessment of your security policies compared to the vulnerability assessment or penetration testing. A security audit considers the dynamic nature of the organization as well as how the organization handles information security.
Common questions that may come up in the security audit could include:
- Does your organization have documented information security policies?
- Do you have a management process in place, escalation profiles, and procedures documented and tracked, a playbook in place in the event of incidents or breaches?
- Do you have network security mechanisms in place (next-gen firewalls, IDS/IPS, EPP, etc.)?
- Do you have security and log monitoring setup?
- Are there an encryption and password policies?
- Is there a Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Plan?
- Are applications tested for security flaws?
- Is there a change management process in place at every level within the IT environment?
- How are files and media backed up? Who will be able to access this backup? Are restore procedures tested?
- Are the auditing logs reviewed? When are the security auditing logs reviewed?
Train & Educate Your Staff
After completing your security policy audits, you can then enforce a written employee policy around data privacy and security. You will want to hold regular security trainings so that all employees are aware of these newly created policies – after all, people cannot voluntarily comply with unfamiliar policies. When establishing your security policy for employees, you might consider training on the following:
- Controlling end user access and privileges as it relates to the common policy called “least privilege”
- The use of various, unique passwords on computers or other devices used for work purposes
- Implement a documented system for departing employees, and vendors/contractors (passwords, key cards, laptop access, etc.)
- Train employees on the importance of reporting suspicious data security leakage or data security breaches
- Create a policy that describes how employees should handle, dispose of, retrieve, and send data
Employees also need training on the types of modern phishing attacks. As discussed in our ransomware blog, phishing is the most common way for ransomware to spread within an organization. If you can train and educate your employees about the pitfalls and indicators to look for in a “phishy” looking email, your organization will be well served.
You might also consider creating an ambassador within your organization that can lead and oversee these various information security training topics to successful completion.
It may seem like a tedious operation to prevent data breaches. If you take a layered approach to security with various measures, policies, and procedures to mitigate security threats, you will be in a much better state than if you allow your organization to remain slack to an ever-changing threat landscape.