Data breaches constitute a nightmare scenario for any company. Small to mid-size corporations are directly in the crosshairs of cybercriminals. Their limited resources and high data volume combined put them at considerable risk. Now is a good time for entrepreneurs to create a comprehensive cybersecurity plan. Here are a few strategies to get you started.
1. Prioritize Strict User Verification
Geography is not a limiting factor for cybercrime. Limiting network access to users with proven legitimacy is step one in curtailing breaches. This approach is commonly referred to as “zero trust” security. The core idea is that trust must be established through verification measures like multifactor authentication (MFA). Identity governance and administration (IGA) is another common component of a zero-trust approach. IGA policies and tools can help keep the user access process secure by employing rigorous authentication protocols. Tailor the solution you decide upon to the unique security needs of your organization.
2. Train Your Workforce to Recognize Threats
The vigilance of your employees is the best defense against data breaches. Security company Tessian found in their report entitled “The Psychology of Human Error” that over 80% of data breaches were products of human error. The nature of these “errors” ranged from misclicking on emails to opening unfamiliar attachments. Most were innocent or, at most, the result of fatigue. Many workers don’t even know what an incoming attack looks like. Train everyone to recognize the warning signs of an impending scam or intrusion attempt and enforce compliance with basic security standards. Teach them how to avoid phishing and other “social engineering” hacks. Make strong security measures everyone’s responsibility.
3. Emphasize Endpoint Security
One challenge facing cybersecurity professionals and businesses is the dispersed nature of the modern workforce. Sales teams and remote workers use a vast array of devices. Endpoint security means ensuring everyone’s compliance with a common set of security standards. This doesn’t necessarily require outsize expenses. Common sense measures like installing antivirus software, setting up passcodes, and avoiding non-secure WiFi routers can make a massive difference in network security.
4. Build Better Passwords
A security measure that everyone can put into practice is creating more effective password protection. Certain kinds of passwords are stronger than others. The best passwords combine uppercase and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols. Creating stronger passwords is an exact science, so do your research.
Remember: Resist the urge to write passwords on slips of paper and leave them at the office. Doing so presents a constant security risk. Never turn a personal fact about yourself or a loved one into a password. If a criminal knows about the people and things you value, they can use that knowledge to breach your system.
5. Backup Data
As personal information is the ultimate target for hackers, storing data securely is central to any cybersecurity plan. Consider purchasing encrypted hard drives or enabling the encryption options that many systems (such as recent Windows versions) include. Backing up important files in the cloud or other offsite locations is another worthwhile plan. Encrypted USB drives can be detached from the internet entirely. Don’t neglect the value of analog hard copies, either. Low-tech solutions can often be the best.
6. Dispose of Documents Securely
Keeping vital information offline as a security measure is worthless if those files fall into the wrong hands. Keep all current documents and devices in securely locked rooms or safes. When you dispose of documents like invoices or receipts, shred them completely before throwing them away. Even basic payment information and transaction data can be used by criminals to compromise your identity. Prioritize physical security infrastructure (cameras, adequate lighting, etc.) near your waste disposal area. Every layer of security you add makes your operation safer.
Don’t let the risk of a data breach become a reality. Take a critical look at your company’s strengths and weaknesses, then make a plan. Let these tips start you on the road to keeping your business safer and more secure this quarter.