Data Science

Your Ultimate Data Security Checklist to Safeguard Your Data From Breaches

Data Protection and Security tips

The world has been witnessing an alarming increase in data breaches, especially in the recent past. According to an IBM report, there was a $137,000 increase in the cost of data breaches due to Covid-19. Data breaches mainly result from unauthorized accesses where intruders use system vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized entry into a network, to steal or tamper with sensitive data. Common data breaches rampant today include Ransomware attacks, malware attacks, phishing, spear-phishing attacks, and Distributed Denial of Service attacks.

This article explains 10 data protection tips for businesses, both large and small, individuals, governments, and non-governmental agencies to protect against data breaches.

Data Protection and Security tips

Use Strong Passwords and 2FA

Selecting and using strong passwords is the first critical step towards protecting data. Strong passwords will give hackers a hard time when they try accessing your data. In most cases, hackers who find it hard to break through passwords will relinquish their mission.

Although best passwords practices have always been overemphasized, most people choose the easy way- using weak passwords. A National Cyber Security Centre study revealed that 23.2 million accounts that were victims of data breaches were found to be using weak passwords such as 12345 or ABCD. Using strong and unique passwords will significantly protect your data against password spray attacks, dictionary attacks, and brute force attacks.

In addition to using strong and unique passwords to secure data repositories, users must also use two-factor authentication features. In the 2FA, apart from using a password alone, users will have to enter a code or use biometric authentication tools to access an account. Hackers usually do not have access to the second factor, so 2FA is a perfect validation strategy for protecting the user and business data.

Use SSL Certificate to Encrypt Data

If we were to rank the most effective data security tools, the SSL certificate would most certainly emerge as the winner. The Secure Socket Layer certificate is a small data file introduced to bind cryptographic keys to data-in-transit digitally. In addition, they add an extra security layer to server-client connections by allowing only encrypted information transfers.

Cyber intruders who try to eavesdrop on HTTPS connections will not decipher the meaning of the transferred data. It is worthless for hackers to try and access data they will not understand. Websites that handle sensitive data such as social security numbers, credit card info, and bank accounts details should have SSL certificates. It is time to implement an SSL certificate on your website. It will help you to cut down on the chances of a data breach.

To set up an SSL certificate, you will have to first buy the certificate from a trusted and authorized SSL certificate vendor. There are several SSL certificate options that you can choose to work with. Some of the leading certificates include Comodo SSL certificates, Rapid SSL, and GeoTrust SSL certificates.

SSL certificates come at affordable prices. Additionally, if you operate a website with multiple first-level subdomains, you don’t have to purchase single certificates for each subdomain. Wildcard SSL certificates have made things easier by securing the chosen main domain, in addition to multiple first-level subdomains under it.

Install Firewalls

Firewalls play a vital role in data protection. Firewalls are responsible for protecting vulnerable programs that might cause havoc on your system. Simply defined, a Firewalls is security software that filters traffic to allow only safe traffic to reach your network. It blocks unsafe traffic that might cause havoc to your data.

Firewalls are essential because they monitor traffic, prevent data breaches, and promote privacy. Individuals need personal firewalls or desktop firewalls to protect their single computer systems from external actors. Organizations need firewalls to help them run their operations lucidly. Corporate firewalls come with several features that will help them protect large-scale amounts of data. To ensure that your data is on the safe side, you must install firewalls. 

Set Up Automatic Software Updates

Software updates are extraordinarily vital elements in data security. The updates usually come with advanced security features that can help in data security. However, hackers are always looking for software vulnerabilities that they can use to access your data. Developers and software vendors are also keen to fix such vulnerabilities. They will patch the security loopholes and release an updated version that addresses the security loopholes.

As a best practice, you must always install the update once it is available for installation. Many users find it challenging to install the updates, leaving their software susceptible to data breaches. The frequent “new software version available” messages should not look like a bother to you. Always pause whatever you are doing to install the update. The longer you stay with old software versions, the more you expose your vital data to breaches.

Use Antimalware Protection

Malware attacks are also becoming popular. Although malware attackers will not directly steal your data, they can distort your data or compromise it in several ways. In addition, there are different forms of malware attacks that could be dangerous to the well-being of your data. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that you protect your data from malware attacks. You can watch the following video to understand more about the different types of malware that could hit your networks.

There are different ways through which you can protect your networks from malware attacks. You will need to be vigilant and know some of the malware protection tools that you can use. Most hackers use email attachments to spread malware. That is why your vigilance is much called for. Additionally, it would be best to use antimalware software to scan, monitor, and protect your data and systems from malware infections.

Access Controls

Some of the most distressing cyber attacks that have occurred in the past have resulted from insider actors. Data is a crucial yet delicate asset that not everyone within your organization should handle. Access controls are effective in controlling who can access your data.

The principle of the least privilege should apply here. Only employees who have business with specific data should be allowed to handle it. Employees who have long retired or left the organization and those on leave should not be allowed to access your organization’s data. In case of any data losses, those who have access rights should be held responsible.

Use Cloud Storage Systems to Store Your Data

Cloud storage has become one of the most convenient sources to store organizations’ data. In addition, cloud storage systems provide more security benefits than other storage sources. One main security advantage with cloud storage systems is that they save your data across redundant servers. So, in any case, one data center collapses, other data centers will immediately step in to manage your data.

But what if all data centers collapse? Although dangerous if it happens, this phenomenon is almost impossible because there are thousands of data centers. In addition, most cloud storage vendors have multiple data centers. They also maintain frequent backups, ensuring that you will still get your data from the backup sources even if your data gets compromised.

Regular Security Audits

The only way to know whether your network has security vulnerabilities is by conducting regular cybersecurity audits. The audits will help to uncover networks vulnerabilities that could cause data breaches. From the audit, you will have a clear glimpse of the security posture of your organization. It would be best to patch the vulnerabilities discovered in your security audit before cyberattackers leverage them.

Cybersecurity Training and Awareness

Would you recognize a potential Business Email Compromise scam? Do you know some of the measures you can take to control a malware attack? How do you deal with insider threats? How informed are your employees when it comes to cybersecurity measures? It does not matter the security tools you have put in place to protect your networks from security breaches. If your staff is still cyber unaware, you can easily fall victim to security threats.

You need a cybersecurity training and awareness program to enlighten your staff on the cybersecurity threat landscape, create a security culture, and bolster your employee confidence when handling your digital resources.

 Regular Data Backups

No one knows the day nor the time when hackers will hit. However, it would help if you had a post-breach data security strategy. You cannot afford to close down your business as most companies do. To ensure that you keep operating optimally, you must have a good data backup and recovery strategy. You should regularly backup your data to minimize the risks of data losses and data breaches.

Conclusion

In the modern world, data is one of the most vital business assets. No wonder it is the most sought thing by hackers. Therefore, businesses and individuals should protect the data at all costs. This article has explained some of the most vital data security measures to protect your data from security vulnerabilities. Always ensure that you implement multiple factors to be on the safe side.

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