A data breach can happen to any organization, and it’s a growing concern among companies both large and small. According to this cyber attack infographic, an IBM study revealed that the average consolidated cost of a data breach is approximately $3.8 million, a 23 percent increase from 2013. According to that same graphic, the Identity Theft Resource Center found that approximately 22 percent of company breaches are due to insider theft, and 12 percent are simply a matter of accidental exposure
You can keep your company and your employees safe from these dangerous data breaches by ensuring that employees are aware of a few tried-and-true data security best practices. Here are some of the most important ones:
1. Practice good access control.
Without good access control protocols, company information remains at risk. Each organization should have a firm policy on password strength and password update policies. Convey the importance of keeping those passwords private, and make sure your employees adhere to minimum password requirements.
Employees should also lock their computers when they are away from their desks. If you have employees accessing your network remotely, make sure that you know exactly when they are doing so, and why.
2. Avoid scams.
A good email filter may be the first defense against phishing scams, but it should not be the last. Educate employees on what phishy emails look like, and make sure they know which ones to avoid opening. Remind employees to never open attachments from unknown senders and to never provide sensitive business data to unfamiliar individuals outside the company. Spell out what information is and is not acceptable to divulge over the phone, in an email, or in-person to those of unfamiliar status within the organization and outside the company.
3. Implement hardware and software restrictions.
It’s important to place limitations on the types of installations and downloads that employees are allowed to perform on company computers. Employees should not be allowed to install or download any software on company technology that is not previously reviewed and authorized. Explain to your employees the importance of avoiding freeware and shareware and how this type of software can become a threat. What may appear to be an innocuous download for work purposes can easily introduce a virus to your network and expose sensitive business data.
4. Manage mobile devices.
Mobile devices pose additional risks, as data can be easily exposed outside of the office. Off-site devices can be subject to mobile malware, eavesdropping, unauthorized access, theft, and loss. Set expectations with employees as to their mobile conduct when accessing company data while on the road. If you allow employees to connect personal mobile devices to company Wi-Fi connections, make sure those connections are separate from the general organization network.
Almost half of American companies experienced some sort of data breach of in 2013. It doesn’t take an expert hacker to view, take possession of, or exploit personal, intellectual or financial data. In fact, according to a Forrester Research report, most mobile data breaches are caused by employee negligence.
Security training can be a challenge without explaining the importance of security measures and adequately communicating how these measures affect the company and the employee. By implementing a few best practices and making sure that data security is of principal concern to everyone within your organization, you can keep your employees educated and your sensitive company data safe from prying eyes.