5 Essential Best Practices for Keeping Your Company’s Data Secure

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At a time when massive amounts of data are being collected, it’s daunting to think of the right security strategy to effectively protect all sensitive company information. While there’s a long list of steps you should take to protect your company’s data, here are the five most essential. These including watching out for insider attacks, engaging employees in security training and awareness, and more.

Keep an Eye on Internal Threats

When we think of the malicious actors in the world of cyber security, we usually think of hackers or other external threats. It’s critical, of course, that companies monitor against such threats, but they shouldn’t forget to watch for internal threats as well. An internal threat is someone within the company, such as an employee, who has access to company servers and data. The truth is that internal threats, not external, make up the majority of security breaches.

According to a 2018 report by CA Technologies, 90 percent of organizations feel vulnerable to inside attacks. Such attacks can be deliberate–as when a Tesla employee deliberately stole and sabotaged company data–but they are often unintentional. Risk factors for insider attacks often lie within the structure of the company itself–for example, excessive privileges given to users, too many devices with access to sensitive data, and complicated information technology. These threats can be reduced with improved employee security training and a clear company policy about who has excess to which data or devices.

Set Clear Employee Security Training Standards

Your company should adopt a clear set of security guidelines and should educate employees in matters such as how to appropriately handle confidential information and how to respond to suspicious signs or behavior.

There are several steps employees can take in preventing both internal and external breaches. Employees should be taught to lock up sensitive information when they step away from their computer; to avoid downloading emailed files or clicking on links that are unexpected or that don’t come from a trusted source; to use strong passwords; and to always keep devices close at hand when outside the office. Training employees in these matters should be a core part of basic employee onboarding.

 Adopt a Unified Security Policy for All Data

Data, both structured and unstructured, end up everywhere–in databases, files, mainframes, the cloud, and more. Because of this enormous amount of data, bits and pieces of it can become forgotten. Keeping your company secure means not just protecting the biggest files and databases, but also protecting every little bit of company data–even that unstructured data that easily slips through the cracks.

To guarantee wide-reaching data security within your company, it’s essential to have a single cyber security strategy for all your data, no matter the location. This will ensure that you won’t have to monitor your data separately, that you won’t leave any data unnoticed or undetected, and that you receive and respond to threat alerts right away.

Encrypt All Company Data

Data is particularly vulnerable when it’s not encrypted, because it’s easily readable by hackers and other malicious actors. Encrypting your data, on the other hand, ensures that even when malicious actors do get their hands on your data, they won’t be able to read it–and, therefore, won’t be able to access sensitive information.

Companies should not only ensure encryption within the office, but should also make sure employees encrypt data when working outside the office or when connecting to other company systems remotely. As part of employee security awareness training, your company should teach users to go through a secure tunnel such as a VPN.

Comply with Security and Privacy Regulations

Compliance with privacy regulations is certainly beneficial to consumers, but it helps your company as well. Regulations like GDPR force companies to prioritize compliance–and, with it, data security–more than ever before.

Setting aside a dedicated team to check for compliance will also help ensure your company finds weak areas of security of that it can make the necessary adjustments. Constantly monitoring and making improvements to your security strategy, rather than passively leaving a security solution in place, is core part of protecting your company’s data.

Summary

Creating a solid cyber-security strategy is just as much a priority as developing and marketing your company’s product. Watch out for internal and external threats, engage and train employees in security awareness, and keep a team on hand to follow up on crucial security compliance regulation. Make sure to have a single security strategy that reaches all your data, and keeps data encrypted as a second defense against a breach. By taking these steps, you can ensure a more secure–and successful–company.

Written in partnership with Imperva.

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