It is impossible to escape from data breaches today, so why not strengthen cybersecurity through simple action plans?
Data is an important asset to any organization, which is why it is an important area of concern for every C-suite leader and a primary target of cybersecurity attack by criminals. In recent years, both large and small organizations have been affected by data breaches. With predictions that ransomware attacks, cloud data breaches, attacks on endpoint devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), to continue to rise in 2021 and beyond, protecting data has been a chief priority for enterprises.
Data breaches happen on an everyday basis, endangering email addresses, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers and other highly sensitive data. Today, we live in an age where one cannot afford to ignore the implications of leaving data unguarded. As per CSO, about 3.5 billion people saw their personal data stolen in the top two of 15 biggest breaches of this century alone. Last year, European budget airline EasyJet suffered a major breach that began in January. In this data breach, credit and debit card details of over 2,000 customers were exposed via emails and travel information.
In May, Russian delivery company, CDEC Express, suffered a major breach when it was discovered that the records of 9 million customers were for sale on the dark web. In June, a breach at the PostBank in South Africa affected between 8 and 10 million beneficiaries who receive social grants every month, as an unencrypted master key was stolen by employees – thus granting complete access to the bank’s systems and the ability to change information on any of the bank’s 12 million cards. Even social media platform Twitter saw a security breach where hackers targeted about 130 accounts, tweeted from 45, accessed the inboxes of 36, and were able to download Twitter data from seven.
These instances prove that securing data is not only an IT problem, nor is it limited to large firms, in reality anyone can be victim to these data based cyber threats. According to Cybersecurity Ventures in 2021, the annual costs of these attacks is expected to reach an incredible US$6 trillion.
As data breaches and other cybersecurity risks will increase with expanding computer networks, companies are investing heavily to deploy the best of cyber defense capabilities, to protect their critical assets. Meanwhile, C-suite leaders should identify where their most important data and sensitive business information lies, which can enable proactive monitoring and allocation of more resources to safeguard the most vital assets. A successful cybersecurity approach should consist of multiple layers of protection that spread across all the networks, computers, programs, and data that one intends to shield against data based cyber threats.
Start Simple is the Key
Some of the general ways to protect data include:
• Data Encryption — converting the data into a code that cannot be easily read without a key that unlocks it. One can also opt for multifactor authentication measures.
• Masking certain areas of data so personnel without the required authorization cannot look at it.
• Creating data backups so that it can be retrieved in case of massive data loss.
• Conducting regular audits to review the data storage systems, data strategy and loopholes, suggest improvements to guard the system and mitigate and prevent potential threats. C-suite leaders should also make sure to conduct enhanced recruitment checks and credit and criminal record checks on people with access to data.
• Educating and training employees about remote work cybersecurity, social engineering scams like phishing and sophisticated cybersecurity attacks like ransomware and other malware designed to steal intellectual property or personal data. Companies can enrolled them for cyber range training.
• Implementing strong end-point security, and continuous monitoring of activities and events on endpoints to detect and block threats that get past initial defenses.
• Install strong firewall to control internet traffic coming into and flowing out of the business.
• Limiting data accessibility by determining what an employee needs access to and ensure they have access to only what they need. Such limitations will help in efficient data management and ensure it is being safeguarded from theft or loss.
While installing antivirus and anti-malware software are important arsenals of data protection, there are a wide range of other options C-suite leaders must explore: enterprise data protection, cloud data security tools, all in one security softwares for mobiles, web browsers, emails and more.