According to Statista, in 2018 alone, there were over 1,200 data breaches in the U.S., which exposed roughly 446 million records, including financial data, intellectual property, and sensitive images. In another related statistic by Forbes, in 2019, more than four billion records were breached in the first six months of the year. Suffice to say, a data breach is a real and serious problem that people face in today’s tech-driven age. Here are six ways to protect your business from a potential data breach:
Assess your current cybersecurity tools
How much do you currently invest in cybersecurity tools and services? Do you have countermeasures in the event that malware is able to bypass these preventive tools? Knowing your current ability to identify and neutralize cybersecurity threats will expose what weaknesses your cybersecurity infrastructure has and the required improvements that need to be addressed. For instance, your office computers may be installed with outdated antivirus software that cannot detect specific malware. This vulnerability can be exploited by hackers to infiltrate your network, get hold of sensitive information, and even paralyze your entire IT infrastructure for a ransom.
Hire a cybersecurity expert
If your expertise isn’t in IT, you should hire someone who knows the field. While it does add another employee to your payroll, the costs of hiring a cybersecurity expert are inconsequential compared to the damages inflicted by a data breach. In addition to losing money or data, your brand can also lose integrity in the eyes of the public. Your existing and future customers may be reluctant to trust you with any personal information. A cybersecurity specialist can advise you on tools and protocols to prevent, maintain, and quickly resolve any cybersecurity-related issues that come your way.
Educate your workforce
You can boost your business’ security by training your staff to identify potentially malicious emails and programs. Hackers know that employees can be an exploitable vulnerability to a business. A human error, such as opening a corrupted email or connecting to an unsecured network with their work device, is sometimes all the opportunity a hacker needs to gain access to your data. And since you need a workforce to keep your business up and running, the only option is to conduct regular cybersecurity training sessions. These sessions can equip your employees with the knowledge to identify threats, avoid actions that may lead to potential breaches, and respond quickly and accordingly to minimize the harm that a threat can inflict.
Implement a risk management plan
There are companies today that specialize in cybersecurity prevention, planning, and management. A cyber risk management platform can help fortify your current cybersecurity program or build you a new one. Through these platforms, you can quantify the potential damage that a breach scenario may inflict and get recommendations based on any identified weak spots in your IT infrastructure. These platforms also use artificial intelligence to analyze your insurance policy’s adequacy in covering financial damages from a hypothetical data breach.
Use endpoint protection software
While antivirus and anti-malware software are must-have tools in the fight against data breaches, it’s not enough to stop them from happening. Add another layer of protection by using endpoint protection software that blocks access to any unsecured websites. These tools control all possible endpoints, including servers, laptops, mobile devices, printers, and other machines that establish a connection to your business’s network. You should also consider investing in edge protection software, which is sometimes bundled in with endpoint software products. Edge protection utilizes firewalls, spam filters, and URL filters to keep malicious files, emails, and webpages out of your IT network.
Don’t mix business and personal data
All business accounts should be kept separately from your personal accounts. Mixing these two leaves you at risk of exposing either or both types of data. Keeping both accounts in one place means that a hacker can access your business data if they get hold of your personal email passwords and vice versa.
The preventive measures aforementioned in this article should be implemented and monitored consistently rather than as a one-and-done step. Your business’ data will only grow bigger as your business grows. Having a solid cybersecurity infrastructure wrapping around it can prevent costly data breaches and ensure that your business can keep scaling without interruptions.