Preventing Accidental Data Exposure in Your Organization

August 10, 2023

Protecting sensitive information today is paramount, as accidental data exposure can have grave consequences for businesses. Companies collect data as part of their essential research and work, such as clientele, customer, employee, and vendor information. A company’s valuable and secure data consists of all these items, which can result in severe consequences if exposed.

These data exposure consequences range from loss of reputation to legal troubles and compromised customer trust. Companies should take steps to protect sensitive data, such as encrypting data, using secure cloud storage, and implementing strict access control protocols. These steps can help mitigate the risks of accidental data exposure and keep businesses and their customers safe.

What causes Data Breaches

The term “data breach” refers to the act of a hacker or any other unauthorized party accessing, stealing, or leaking personal or confidential information. In recent years, especially since the pandemic, cybercrimes have skyrocketed. The Cost of Data Breaches 2022 Report conducted by IBM shows that data breaches cost over $145,000.

Data breaches occur in various ways, from phishing scams to malware, ransomware, and more. Cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in their methods and have found ways to exploit IT systems. Additionally, with the rise of remote working, companies are more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Information that is considered confidential includes social security numbers, and login credentials, such as usernames and passwords, emails, mobile phone numbers, medical data, financial records, social media profile data, IP addresses, credit card information, and bank account numbers.

Preventing Accidental Data Exposure

Taking the following precautions will help your business or company prevent data leaks and minimize the risk of accidental data exposure.

Perform a thorough Assessment of IT Security

Reviewing your organization’s security and data practices is crucial in protecting your valuable and confidential data.

– You can start by changing your access control policies, like enabling two-factor authentication and strong account passwords.

– A great way to minimize the risk of data exposure is by implementing Role-Based Access Control (RABC), which means granting employees access based on their specific roles and responsibilities. This dials down the risk of unauthorized data exposure.

Adopting a Zero-Trust Policy is also favored by significant companies. It means that no device or user can be inherently trusted, whether inside or outside the network. Zero-Trust Policy includes verification and continuous monitoring of devices and users at all stages.

Educating Employees

It is common for employees to fall victim to phishing scams, frauds, or malicious emails that result in data breaches. All levels of staff can be educated about types of phishing scams and cons, as well as how scammers might try to hack into their systems, through a mandatory cybersecurity training program. Make sure you implement numerous ways to handle all these threats. Training should include instructions on how to recognize suspicious emails, how to protect confidential data, and how to report potential threats. Additionally, training should emphasize the importance of keeping software up to date and the need for strong passwords.

Choose trusted Third-party Vendors

From cloud services to security software, companies frequently collaborate with third-party vendors. It’s important to vet potential vendors carefully and ensure their security measures meet industry standards. A security breach can lead to consequences, so it’s best to choose vendors with a proven track record. You must select a trustworthy and reliable company if these third parties have access to sensitive data and systems of your company.

Make a Backup Plan

The best thing you can do in a worst-case scenario is to be prepared with a well-equipped backup. If your data is compromised by ransomware, how soon will you be able to recover it? It’s best to keep sensitive data on trusted cloud sources if any cyberattacks or data leaks happen. Ensure you have the latest security measures to protect your data and systems. Identify the steps to be taken during an attack by developing a comprehensive response plan. Regularly test your plan to ensure it is practical and up-to-date.

Invest in your Security

A company’s IT department should always be protected if it wants to succeed long-term. By investing in the latest security measures, you can stay ahead of the game as hackers become more sophisticated. For a business to succeed in the long run, it is crucial to constantly monitor and update security protocols. The first step is investing in a high-end, trusted firewall and antivirus software. You should update all devices containing sensitive information about your company. Regular security audits are also recommended to ensure the security of a company’s IT infrastructure.

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