5 Best Practices to Prevent Data Breaches
In recent years, the need to prevent data breaches has become increasingly clear, as they impact thousands of companies and millions of consumers. 2019 went on record as the worst year for data breaches with over 3,800 incidents and at least 4.1 billion records exposed.
These events have the potential to not only damage a company’s reputation but also carry a hefty price tag, one that IBM estimates costs an average of $3.92 million and exposes over 25,000 records per incident. To minimize these costs, companies need to take preventative action to ensure that their systems are adequately protected. Let’s break down the top five practices companies can implement to prevent data breaches.
1. Limit reliance on static data
Maintaining a database of customer information leaves sensitive information vulnerable to outside threats. Businesses can be proactive by limiting their use of static data sources and shifting their focus to consumer-permissioned data.
Consumers want the reassurance that their data is safe. This practice empowers them to regain control of their personal information by opting in and out of granting businesses access to their data. Moving toward consumer-permissioned data benefits both the consumer and the company, as companies can reduce the risk of a data breach and the costs that come along with it.
2. Provide proper training and education
Data breaches don’t just happen when outside threats infiltrate the system. A staggering 90 percent of data breaches are caused by human error. Appropriately training and educating employees on security best practices will provide an added level of protection to safeguard sensitive information.
90% of data breaches are caused by human error.
Employees should be aware of possible threats, how to avoid them, and what to do if they notice suspicious activity. From malware to phishing, these attempts can be harmful to individuals and organizations. To mitigate security threats, companies should consider implementing guidelines for storing and creating unique passwords, educating employees on the types of cybersecurity threats that exist, and enrolling them in security awareness training.
3. Remain up-to-date on industry standards and regulations
Staying informed about what data protection regulations are in place can save you from a world of trouble. While regulations like Know Your Customer (KYC) have been in place for decades, policies like GDPR and CCPA have new implications that haven’t fully played out yet. Meanwhile, 11 states have passed or are currently considering similar data privacy legislation.
While taking the time to enforce and adapt to these regulations can be expensive, the security of safeguarding consumer information and maintaining their trust is priceless. Failure to comply with data privacy laws not only leaves organizations open to data breaches and fraud, but it also can lead to significant fines.
4. Identify weaknesses
It’s hard to address a threat if you don’t know it’s there. To be adequately prepared, your organization will need to test itself as severely as a true cyber attacker would. Vulnerability assessments, security audits that can detect and reveal data infrastructure vulnerabilities, identify potential risks, including how well information security is maintained, and suggest what actions are needed to remedy them.
By doing this, organizations have a clear picture of how well their data is protected and what changes they need to implement to prevent data breaches. Utilizing vulnerability and compliance management (VCM) tools can assist with this process and help your team create an action plan to address security risks.
5. Implement additional security protocols
While cybersecurity threats are impossible to completely eliminate, taking some necessary precautions can significantly reduce risk and help to prevent data breaches:
- Require specific authorization and credentials to access sensitive information.
- Ensure that software and hardware remain up-to-date. System updates and patches can provide an added layer of protection from newly identified vulnerabilities.
- Enforce multi-factor authentication to combat the use of stolen credentials.
- Verify and authenticate customer information. Digital identity verification can protect consumers and businesses alike from fraudulent online activity.
Preventing data breaches may seem like an exhaustive and expensive task, but getting ahead of the threat can save companies millions of dollars The threat continues to evolve: Experian predicts that in 2020, hackers will set their sights on smishing, free public WiFi, deepfake technology, hacktivism, and exploiting point-of-sale transactions. Make data breach prevention a priority now to avoid a costly mistake later.
What steps has your company taken toward data breach prevention? Let us know on Twitter.
You might also be interested in:
- Friction Is the Future: High Risk, High-Security ID Verification
- 5 Digital Tools to Help Fight Identity Fraud
- 5 Steps to Building Trust in Your Data Privacy Policies
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About Ma-Keba Frye
Ma-Keba Frye is a Content Marketing Associate at Urjanet, assisting with content development and execution. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and volunteering.