There can be significant consequences when a company experiences a breach in their data security. Every few months, the headlines are filled with stories concerning security breaches of high profile companies where sensitive, confidential customer information is exposed. Not only does this cause a disruption to the company’s business, but it can ruin its reputation if the situation is not handled properly.
For some companies, the data that is breached is often nothing more than the username/password combination. While critical, once the company realizes that a cyber-attack has occurred, they can immediately shut down the entire system. For them, the accounts held nothing more than general information.
However, some company servers that are breached hold valuable, private information including Social Security numbers, details about credit cards or other pertinent financial information. For them, even the smallest security breach could produce significant ramifications and destroy their reputation – leading to a crushing number of lawsuits.
So, exactly what is happening, and why are there so many data security breaches at a high level? What could be done as a way to reduce the potentials of a devastating security incident? If hackers can attack large corporations, could the same thing happen to my company, and how devastating would that be?
It is important that every company understands the potential threats from hackers interested in viewing, exposing or stealing confidential data. Unfortunately, the headlines only report successful attacks in cyberspace that have been detected. Most likely, there are thousands of organizations that do not realize that attackers have already gained access into their security systems, and probed and identified confidential information.
Hackers Look for System Vulnerabilities
The biggest challenge of the cyber-attack from the hacker’s viewpoint is his or her ability to understand the company’s vulnerabilities in their system. Through a variety of ways, they can deliberately exploit the weakness without the company ever knowing it is being done. Research indicates that well over seven out of 10 small companies that have experienced some type of high-level security breach will close their doors forever within the first 12 months.
The security of the business is only as strong and effective as its weakest component. Gaining access into the company’s data typically happens because there is more than one weak component in security. Because of that, it is important to take a multilevel approach to ensure the company has tightened up security as much is possible.
So, exactly what can be done to prevent the theft of crucial, confidential information? There are significant actions that can be performed. They include:
- Invest in Full Protection – There are two specific ways a company can safeguard their confidential information, either by doing it in-house, or outsourcing it to a third-party managed service provider (MSP). The in-house IT department, or MSP, can utilize hardware that is security-focused to automatically detect any intrusions on the company network.
- Manage How Employees Use Computers – Most data security breaches are the result of an employee’s unregulated action. Often unknowingly performed by the employee, they will install software that is unauthorized, download harmful viruses, or transmit their confidential work files to a mobile device or home computer. Additionally, many employees do not follow strict company password generating protocols (if they exist) and create extremely weak passwords that are easy to decipher or guess.
- Incorporate Least Privilege Principle Policies – Not everyone in the company should be granted privileges to confidential information if it serves no useful purpose in doing their job. The MSP or IT department should continually review current privileges to see which ones need to be revoked because they are no longer necessary.
- Encrypt All Data – Because all business requirements are different, it is important to choose the best encryption technology to fit the needs of the company. There are numerous high-level encryption standards and effective algorithms available to safeguard confidential data when it is in motion (being transmitted) or at rest (in storage).
- Monitor All Database Activity – A managed service provider can perform real-time auditing and monitoring to ensure that all company employees are following security protocols, procedures and rules. The auditing allows the opportunity to add additional, effective security layers to prevent exposure and pilfering of crucial data from a cyber-attack.
Prevention is crucial to avoid a breach in the company’s data security. The truth is that many companies never think about their information being compromised, until it happens. Only then do they experience serious consequences of a damaged reputation, which exposes them to profit crippling lawsuits.
There are simple solutions that can minimize the liability of a cyber-attack. It is important that every company understands that it is not a set it and forget it problem. To remain effective, data security must be continuously reviewed and audited, so the proper adjustments can be made to make the system as secure as possible.
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