Data Breach Countermeasures for Fast-Growing Companies
In the last 10 years alone, a minimum of 100,000 records has been stolen through at least 300 data breaches. Billions of additional records were exposed and it is still uncertain exactly how deep the breaches go.
In fact, the well-known Yahoo data breach has already been reported to have affected 3 billion users with that number only growing. Even Facebook admits to irresponsibly handling millions of users’ passwords.
According to the University of Maryland, a data breach occurs about every 39 seconds, meaning by the time you finish reading this, several cyber-attacks will have taken place. Everyone needs to protect themselves and their organizations.
However, fast-growing companies are often changing so quickly that it makes them a bit more vulnerable to data breaches. Below is a summary of how and why these data breaches take place, and preventative measures you can take to protect your company.
Methods of Data Breaches
Hackers will always look for new ways of doing things, especially as more and more people begin to learn their current methods. It is imperative that companies both big and small stay up to date on current attacks. The most common at this time are the following:
Malicious software, most commonly known as malware, is a software or program that users often pick up through being on websites that have been hacked, downloading files that are infected with malware, and other avenues. Malware can be used for several reasons, including stealing sensitive information from your computer.
Ransomware is a software that is sent to companies, businesses, and sometimes individuals. Most often, it comes in the form of an email and often from a person the recipient knows.
When the email is opened, the software locks down the information on the recipient’s computer, and a ransom payment is demanding to unlock the information.
Denial of Service (DoS)
DoS is most commonly used on companies whose sites are linked to banks and similar companies. This attack is one in which the hacker blocks legitimate requests from going through on the website they are visiting.
Hackers will always look for new ways of doing things, especially as more and more people begin to learn their current methods.
Phishing is another scam that comes through email. These emails appear to be sent from a reputable company or organisation and include a link or attachment that are actually avenues through which to steal your data.
While this can hit any individual or company, it is important that companies that are consistently growing stay alert. It might be more difficult for a phishing scam to work on an individual or small company because as companies grow, their inboxes are likely to grow as well. As most of these emails will resemble companies that you might be interested in working with, it can be easier to fall prey to such a scam.
Causes of Data Breaches
Some of the most common causes of data breaches are the following:
- Physical theft or loss of a device
- Weak credentials and passwords
- System vulnerabilities
- Intentional betrayal, often referred to as social engineering (individuals willingly sharing sensitive data in exchange for money or another reward)
- Human error (mistakes, lack of vigilance, ignoring or not knowing proper procedures or processes)
As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Franklin’s words of wisdom can still be applied today, especially when it comes to security. The following are some steps you can take to help prevent data breaches.
Being aware of threats or potential threats as well as new methods of hacking and security is one of the most important steps. It is difficult to know how to protect yourself from a threat when you are not even sure what that threat is. Stay up to date on cybersecurity so you will always be educated and make informed decisions.
Encrypting data means coding it in such a way that it needs a unique code for one to be able to access it. This means that only authorised users can actually access the data. One of the best ways to encrypt your data and protect your security is through the use of a VPN, or virtual private network.
For maximum security, you want to ensure you use one that does not log your activity. You also want to be sure that it has a kill switch, meaning that if the VPN drops for some reason, you are automatically disconnected from the internet, preventing any unprotected internet activity. If you are looking to safeguard information in a fast-growing company, consider learning more about how a VPN can help keep your data safe.
Train Employees on Security
In truth, it doesn’t matter how many preventative steps you take if your employees are not following procedures. At the same time, without the proper training, your employees will not know what those procedures are or how to follow them.
For example, if your employees are unaware that using their own phones to access social media while at work is opening a door, they have no reason to avoid it. It is your company’s job to train employees on security measures and to provide any security items they need, such as a VPN or other program.
The more employees you have that can access sensitive information, the easier it is for a door to be left open. Limit the number of people who have access to secure data down to those who truly need it.
When possible, compartmentalise access. Instead of having a handful of people who can access all of your information, have different employees responsible for small portions of data.
Old and outdated security and systems are like a candy store for hackers. One of the most effective ways to secure your company’s data is to be sure you keep everything updated.
Cybersecurity is not something you set up and forget about it. It requires ongoing maintenance.
Consider hiring a physical security team. You spend time and money initially on the hiring, training, and other things they might need. You discuss your schedule and your security needs with them so they understand what the job actually entails. Is that the end of it?
Of course not. You have to make payments to the security team, update them on any schedule changes, and so on. Otherwise, they cannot do their jobs properly, or they will simply stop working for you.
The same is true for cybersecurity systems. After the initial set up, there must be ongoing maintenance to ensure that everything is updated and working properly. You might need to make changes to address new threats.
Any number of things could open a door for hackers. Your ongoing maintenance will ensure that those doors are staying closed.
While this step may sound like the opposite of what you want, this hacking is a little different. Hiring skilled hackers to find a way to hack your system can tell you exactly where your vulnerabilities lie.
Still, you do not want to open a door for the wrong hackers. Be sure that you ask for recommendations and find professionals who have a good reputation to do the hacking. There are plenty of highly skilled people who can help you without risking your company’s data.
Stack Your Odds
Typically, one approach to cybersecurity simply is not enough. Using all of the steps mentioned here together can decrease your risk of data breaches.
However, always be sure to carefully consider the steps you are taking and properly research them. It does not matter how many security measures you have in place if none of them are right for your company.
Typically, one approach to cybersecurity simply is not enough.
Sometimes, you can take all possible steps to prevent data breaches and still find yourself a victim to hackers. This is why it is necessary to have a plan and a response team in place.
Your plan should lay out exactly what steps need to be taken to minimise your company’s vulnerability, how to handle ransomware, who should be contacted in case of a breach, and anything else that seems necessary. It should also clearly state what data is kept where- so you can determine what has been hacked quickly- as well as where any backups are.
Having a response team in place to carry out this plan is also a wise move. Waiting until a breach occurs to determine what needs to be done and who needs to do it can cost your company a lot of time and a lot more money.
Instead, have it all in place long before a breach occurs so if it does occur, you can respond accordingly as opposed to reacting based on fear and other emotions. It is fine to hope you never have to use that plan or for that team to need to go into action. However, a responsible business owner prepares for as many eventualities as possible.
Wrapping It Up
Don’t leave your organisation’s data to chance. Take the necessary steps to prevent a breach, have a plan and team in place in case the unfortunate occurs, and learn from any mistakes along the way. Treating your data as the priority it is will lead you to make better decisions about its protection.