5 Ways to Improve and Optimize Your Company’s Data Security Program

Data. It is one of a company’s most important and valuable assets. Is it any surprise, then, that cybercriminals from all over the world are pursuing it? As a business owner, it is your responsibility to put in place a security program that safeguards and protects your data. Nonetheless, as some of the more recent breaches demonstrate, it can be extremely difficult.

The moral of these—and other nerve-wracking hacking stories—is to emphasize the importance of data security rather than point fingers.

For example, the Block-Cash App breach, which was announced in April 2022, may have exposed the data of over eight million customers. Microsoft had experienced a hacking incident only a month prior, though the company claimed that no client data was compromised. In addition, nearly 500 users had $30 million or more stolen in a major data breach at the start of the year.

Cybersecurity threats can bring down even the most well-known companies, so they can affect any company. What happens if you don’t have the crisis management capabilities or the long-term credibility of a legacy company? Your brand may not be able to withstand negative publicity or customer backlash.

Putting in Place Tougher Data Security Measures

Go to the front of the class if you’re worried about data breaches, hackers, or cyber thieves. You’re being a foresightful, forward-thinking founder.

However, figuring out how to set up protective barriers between your data and digital criminals may require some assistance. To make your company less appealing as a target, try some of these tactics.

1. For any data security program, understand your industry’s baseline

Depending on your industry, you may be legally required to protect a variety of data types. Financial records and employee information, as well as trade secrets, could be among them.

You may also be subjected to routine compliance audits, which are common in the financial sector.

There’s a good chance you already know what to expect in terms of data security. Still, it’s never a bad idea to consider all of the data you have on hand and how you use it. Regulations are constantly changing, and you don’t want to be caught off guard—or discover that your ignorance resulted in a breach.

2. Assess the level of risk posed by your third-party vendors

According to a CyberRisk Alliance Business Intelligence study, third-party vendors were responsible for nine out of ten data breaches in 2021. To put it another way, any vendor you use could become a “back door” for hackers. While working with a third-party vendor comes with its own set of risks, there are steps you can take to mitigate them, such as using software to track and assess risk. Integrated risk management platforms, such as Ostendio MyVCM, for example, enable you to assess third-party risk and ensure that those who do have access to data are adequately protecting it.

You can’t take everything a vendor says at face value, even if it says it’s safe and secure. You’ll have peace of mind if you conduct due diligence with the help of intelligent risk management systems. You’ll also have a documented audit trail to refer to later if necessary.

3. Examine your data security program for any gaps in remote work

According to a report published by The New York Times in late 2021, 86 percent of telecommuters did not want to return to work. They were content to work from home.

While this is beneficial in many ways, having a teleworker team can be risky for your business. Your remote team may be making your corporate data far too accessible without the proper safeguards in place.

However, you are not required to bring everyone back to headquarters. Ensure that they have access to a corporate virtual private network (VPN). Someone logging onto public WiFi in a nearby coffee shop is the last thing you want.

Remote employees should also have devices dedicated solely to their work. Using a password management tool like 1Password, for example, can assist you in creating stronger logins and managing employee access to third-party tools. In addition, require two-factor authentication for all logins.

When someone leaves the company, remove all their access points to your systems right away.

4. Conduct internal security audits regularly

Even if you don’t work in a field that requires security audits, you can still perform them independently.

Collect data from your department heads every quarter. Inquire about any changes that you may not be aware of that may affect your data security risk. Changes could include anything from new suppliers to a new technology stack.

Once you’ve identified all of the changes, you can see if any of them are putting your data at risk. If you have one, collaborate on this with your IT leader or CTO.

Consider working with a technical consultant a few times a year if your company is small or new. A breach can be costly, and you can’t afford even the tiniest of them.

How much does it cost? The average cost of a data breach in 2021, according to IBM, was just over $4 million.

5. Teach employees how to be better “mini-managers” of data security

Your team members could be extremely talented. That’s almost certainly why you hired them in the first place.

However, they may not realize that some of their daily activities put your data at risk. One of the best gifts you can give your team members is cybersecurity training. After all, the more information they have, the easier it will be for them to detect issues such as phishing scams or malware downloads.

Create a document on data cybersecurity trends and best practices for your workplace as part of your educational approach. Consider including it in your employee handbook as a section. You can specify what to do in the event of a suspected breach or cyber threat there.

The more knowledge your employees have, the better equipped they will be to help you manage your data. Because new techniques are constantly being developed, you should schedule employee training at least twice a year. This is also a good reminder to keep everyone on the lookout for phishing scams and other threats to data security programs.

Customers, employees, and stakeholders may not always express it, but they expect you to keep their information safe. The best move you can make is to secure the data that enters your company as much as possible. The more difficult it is to extract your data, the less appealing it will be to cybercriminals looking for a quick buck.

Learn more from technology and read 8 Data Protection Tips for Remote Workers.

John Harper

#1 File Information bestselling author John Harper loves to dispel the myth that smart men & women don’t read (or write) romance, and if you watch reruns of the game show The Weakest Link you might just catch him winning the $77,000 jackpot. In 2021, Netflix will premiere Bridgerton, based on his popular series of novels about the Why Files.

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