5 Strategies Organisations can take to Prevent a Data Breach
When the Information Commissioner release the second report on Notifiable Data Breaches, the report revealed that breaches are rising. There were just 63 breaches reported in the first quarter, but, between April and June, Australian organisations reported 242 data breaches. Those 305 breaches are significantly more than the 114 breaches recorded through the 2016-17 financial year. When looking at causes, the reports assign 59% of the breaches to criminal or malicious sources, while 36% were blamed on human error. Only 5% were attributed to system errors or malfunctions. This suggests data breaches are largely attributed to human beings and, as such, preventing those breaches are also in our hands. Protection of your systems can be enhanced, when following these data breach prevention tactics.
1. Evaluate Your System’s Security
A risk audit is essential in preventing breaches, because it helps to identify weaknesses in your security system. Australian Privacy Act and the European Union’s GDPR both set out requirements for conducting risk assessments, so vulnerabilities can be identified and reinforced, before other entities have the opportunity to exploit them. When a risk audit is conducted, it’s goal is to isolate the strengths and the weaknesses in your system, but that doesn’t mean the audit is confined to the security program, itself. A comprehensive assessment should examine each of the following for vulnerabilities:
- Security policies
- Computer processes
- Employee practices
- Staff engagements
- Technologies in use
In looking for weaknesses that might result in a data breach, it’s important to look beyond your own staff. Partners, vendors, and other stakeholders may increase the risk of a breach, when they access your system, or interact with your organisation. All of these factors will need to be evaluated in order to establish a more secure infrastructure.
2. Raise Security Awareness
While establishing a stronger security network organisations may rely on a security company that offers a full range of managed services, it’s equally vital to educate your staff. As seen in the previously mentioned reports, people are often the weakest link in the chain of security, so educating your staff is essential. Whether they get lazy, or they simply aren’t aware of protocol changes, the actions of your employees may inhibit your security efforts.
The best method for keeping your employees aware of your expectations in this regard is by supplying yearly training sessions. We can help you update and train your employees by:
- Developing training material, which will be customised to apply to your organisation’s security expectations and the best practices specific to your industry;
- Conducting a training webinar and a quiz, which is to be based on the information shared in the webinar;
- Recording participation and successful completion of the training program for each employee.
3. Password Protocols
Even with the best security system in place, your organisation will still be exposed to the threat of a data breach, if your staff is using weak passwords. For that reason, it’s important to develop rules and guidelines for each of your employees to follow in creating their own passwords. Obviously, passwords, like “guest,” “user,” or “password,” should be prohibited, because this makes unauthorised access simple.
Anyone with access to your system should be required to follow guidelines for creating strong, more secure passwords. This reduces the likelihood that a breach will come from a third-party hacker. In addition to password protocols, all company security policies and procedures should be made available to everyone in the organisation to ensure full compliance.
4. Regular Vulnerability Assessment
Regular testing is essential to help your organisation stay up to date on the latest security protocols. As the tech industry develops new ways to protect businesses, cyber criminals develop inventive ways to get around those protocols. This means continually evaluating the strength of your security system and installing new updates to keep you ahead of entities seeking to breach your system.
5. Establish a Governance Committee
While regular testing and updating of your system is essential, you should task employees with responsibility and accountability in maintaining the secure infrastructure. This means forming a committee that will regularly look at how security protocols are being followed and at what changes need to be made. Allocating duties, changing procedures, or requesting improved resources will all have to be evaluated by the committee on an ongoing basis.
In addition, the governance committee should receive full support from senior executives. The governance committee should include representatives from every department in the organisation to ensure all issues are being addressed, as well. Meetings should focus on discussing recent security risks, threats, and concerns about new vulnerabilities. Finally, the governance committee will be responsible for initiating and enforcing new security measures, which will keep the business safer from potential threats.
By continuously analysing and updating your security framework, you can ensure your business will stay ahead of potential threats. Further, involving everyone in the organisation with the development and practice of safety protocols can strengthen your organisation against the breaches that result from both error and malicious attacks. A comprehensive security plan can help you protect sensitive data that concerns your employees and consumers, as well as data directly related to your business.
Contact us here if you’d like to discuss how to further protect you systems and environment from data breaches and other security risks.