With the mass digitization of modern businesses across almost all industries, cybersecurity has become one of the most talked-about issues during the last decade or so. For example, over 4 billion records were exposed due to data breaches globally during the first half of 2019, while the year 2020 saw over 155 million records exposed in the US alone, again caused by cyber-attacks during which sensitive data had been exposed.
And although we can see a trend of successful data breaches decreasing over the past couple of years, we strongly recommend businesses not to start taking these issues lightly. Data protection and infrastructure security should be among your top priorities, especially now when the information has become more valuable than money itself, at least in the long run.
This is why modern companies, regardless of their size or the industry they belong to, have started to boost their investments in preventing security infringements and minimizing the vulnerability of their sensitive data. The gaps in cybersecurity are a common occurrence within the modern cloud-based landscape. They tend to happen due to various reasons, including insufficient security funds, employee negligence, faulty data protection plans, or an underdeveloped staff/client mindset in terms of the overall security levels of an organization.
That said, let’s delve into some of the proven ways and best practice tips on how businesses can maximize the performance of their security layers.
1. Be Consistent With Strong Passwords
Making sure the use of weak passwords is obviated across your entire company is critical. In recent research performed by Verizon, it is revealed that 8 out of 10 data breaches occur as a consequence of weak passwords. Despite the quite overt numbers portraying just how vulnerable weak passwords are, it is rather surprising how many companies have employees who use generic and easily hackable passwords or let browsers save their account passwords. The reuse of passwords across multiple accounts and platforms is another big cause of critical data breaches especially if they are used for email accounts, as these messages are used on a daily basis and often feature dataflows of sensitive information.
We recommend utilizing password management software like LastPass that has been proven to work for numerous organizations, startups, and enterprises alike. Additionally, try using a consistently strong password policy across your entire company, including regular employees, outsourced staff, clients, as well as third-party users. Updating passwords for critical accounts every 3 months or so is also a good practice for those who want to achieve high levels of security and privacy.
2. Secure All Points of Entry
Having a multi-faceted approach to cybersecurity involves securing all potential points of entry. You can have a robust security system for your environment and system architecture but without making sure that granular data cannot be accessed through other channels, your sensitive information will be as secure as its weakest security layer.
Investing in security resources like antivirus systems and firewall technology is a paramount component of your cybersecurity plan, but these systems are not impossible to penetrate should there be a potential breach workaround through another channel that deals with critical data. These potential points of entry usually include:
- Your own employees
- Your clients
- Your clients’ employees
- Suppliers, etc.
These are all potential weak spots in your overall security plan and should not be overlooked as numerous cyber attacks happen through bypassed exterior cyber-security layers.
3. Incorporate Email Retention Policies and Archiving Solutions
As we already mentioned, emails often convey sensitive data that can be easily compromised, which is why implementing strong email archiving solutions, as well as email retention policies, is extremely important for reaching high-security levels. These policies can help you in cases where your company faces legal issues and could literally save your business from going under, while they can also help you optimize costs in terms of storing and managing email-based data.
4. Use Encryption Across All Your Devices & Deploy Regular Security Tests
The year 2020 has thought us that most modern businesses can operate even though some of their staff members are working remotely. This altered business landscape involves the use of wide varieties of portable devices that together create an intricate ecosystem of personal computers. This makes room for more data breaches, which is why ensuring that all the nodes in this complex network of dataflows are secure, encrypted, and hard to hijack is paramount.
Make sure that all your employees, as well as your clients, are using dataflow channels that are trustworthy, with your sensitive data stored and managed safely within both on-premise and cloud-based systems and servers. Proper data encryption practices and regular security tests can really make all the difference here. Regardless of how secure (you think) your cybersecurity systems are, performing security tests can help you detect weak spots within your strategy and assist you in the mitigation of potential disastrous breach scenarios.
5. Create Backups & Update Your Security (and Non-Security) Software Regularly
Though this piece of advice may seem a bit too boilerplate, it is alarming how many businesses neglect regular software updates. We highly recommend keeping all your systems, security or otherwise, patched and updated at all times. Additionally, creating regular backups, as well as deploying a proper data archiving policy is critical for those who want their data to outlive potential disaster situations and cyber attacks.
Having an all-around and multi-faceted cybersecurity strategy in place is never something your organization should be skimpy about. Be sure to cover all the potential breach points and take all the precautionary measures seriously. Perform regular tests of your protection systems and assure a security-first mindset is deployed across all your teams, departments, and staff members. Testing can help you recognize the early warning signs of potential data compromisation and help obviate them in the future.