Data security isn’t a concern of the “giants” alone. Smaller companies also face cyber-crime on a regular basis. It’s critical for businesses to take every measure possible to protect themselves from cyber criminals. Bank account details, personal files, payment information, client contacts – an organization cannot risk having such information fall into the wrong hands. Even just losing important data can have grave consequences.
Startups, in particular, should pay special attention to cyber security, as smaller companies are even more vulnerable to risk than larger organizations. The highest level of data security should be implemented before a company opens its door to business.
So what can a corporation do to ensure safety? It can start by avoiding these 7 data security mistakes most companies make.
1. Not controlling access to data
A company should limit the number of employees that have access to sensitive data. The more people you give privileges to, the higher the chances of getting hacked. Accessibility should be on the most minimal terms – just enough for an employee to be able to do their job – no more. For example, an employee must only be allowed to install software that’s related to their scope of work. Any other privileges should be blocked.
User access must be deleted as soon as an employee leaves the organization and user rights should be carefully monitored on a regular basis. Access rights must be supervised and changed when an employee changes roles within the company. This will reduce your chance of losing important information.
Moreover, in case of an information breach, it’ll be easier to perform a root cause analysis if fewer people have access to the company’s data.
2. Not updating passwords
It may sound like an obvious point to make but many companies fail to keep their passwords updated and strong. You’re putting yourself at unnecessary risk by not creating unique passwords or not changing them frequently.
Hackers crack hundreds of codes in a second; having a simple password is like inviting these thieves to steal your private information. Your passwords should be at least 12 to 14 characters, as longer and more complex passwords are much harder to crack. Auto logins should also be avoided, as this puts all of your information at risk should your system ever get hacked.
Moreover, the same password should not be used for every application or platform. If you use the same password for all of your accounts, you’re really making a cyber criminal’s day. This can result in all of your accounts being compromised if only a single one is broken into.
It’s also recommended to change your passwords every three months at a minimum. This will ensure your system’s safety. It may sound like a headache to remember so many passwords, but it’s well worth the risk of losing your critical information or having it fall into the wrong hands.
3. Letting employees use their personal devices
One of the biggest mistakes most companies make is to give employees’ personal devices access to the organization’s confidential data. When you blur the lines between professional and personal devices, you’re looking at an enormous security risk having your confidential data walk out the door with employees. Although BYOD (bring your own device) is rapidly gaining popularity – particularly in the startup culture – the security issue is too big to ignore.
When employees have the company’s information stored on their personal devices, that information will still be there when the employee leaves the organization. This is a major problem when it comes to data security.
A company should have a strict BYOD policy that outlines protocols for gaining access to the organization’s data from off-site locations. The BYOD policy should also include MDM (mobile device management), giving the IT department of the organization access to any device that has access to the company’s network. The IT department should also have the authority to withdraw access or wipe a device in case it’s stolen or lost.
4. Not educating employees
You may have a kickass IT department taking care of your data but if you really want to ensure security, you should educate your workforce. Ever heard of the saying “loose lips sink ships?” This is true for cyber security as well, except “loose fingers” would be the more accurate term in this case.
An organization should hold security training for all employees, having them demonstrate proficiency before giving access to data. Training should include education on how to detect and report a potential security threat, how to avoid getting their devices infected with viruses, how to download safely and how to solve some common security problems, among other protocols. Your staff should know the difference between insecure platforms and secure software such as Hubstaff.
Employees should be kept in the loop about new viruses and spyware and taught how best to avoid them. Hackers can easily get into your system through employees’ social media accounts and email IDs. Hence, it’s important to give your staff basic education in order to maintain an all-around safer network.
5. Lack of maintenance
It’s critical to keep your network up to date on security standards if you want to avoid threat. Technology is a fast-changing phenomenon; security practices from a decade ago are now outdated and shouldn’t be used. Many companies fail to make the effort to keep pace with the latest cyber security standards, which can pose a potential danger to their data. Using old techniques and encryption algorithms can be risky as cyber criminals can easily attack them.
These thieves depend on you to make blunders – as soon as they find a gap in your network security, they’ll swoop in. This means you must be vigilant in not only implementing security protocols but also maintaining and updating them.
This can be best achieved if your company has a set schedule for scans and updates. Your IT department should be dedicated to planning and carrying out regular maintenance activities for all your software and hardware.
6. Storing data insecurely
Employees often store sensitive information on USB thumb drives. A lot of people attach their USB drives to key rings and carry them with them when going out. Some people also tend to leave their storage devices lying around their desks. Companies often back up their important data on tape. These tapes are not always in the organization’s control as they’re frequently taken offsite.
It’s a major mistake to let your data stay unprotected. One case of a lost tape, iPad, laptop or USB drive can have severe consequences for your company, landing your business in a legal or financial mess.
If you use portable devices to store sensitive information, you must use strong encryption techniques to keep your data safe. Tools like BitLocker To Go and BitLocker can help keep your information protected on devices such as USBs and laptops. For devices like iPads, you can deploy mobile management security software to protect and encrypt data.
7. Trying to DIY everything
It’s a fact that there’s a shortage of cyber security skills. According to estimates, the shortage is approximately for a million positions and increasing rapidly. Whether your company is a startup or you have a large setup, you can’t make it work by trying to do everything in-house.
If you need help with incident response, security monitoring, penetration testing or any cyber security protocol, you should go to the experts. It can be a good idea to partner with an established security services provider so that your data is in the hands of specialists. Your team can then concentrate on expediting your projects and business with peace of mind.
Staying abreast of data security is a 24/7 job. You must continually improve and upgrade your safety efforts. Many organizations become complacent over time, thinking the worst will not happen to them. This type of thinking can make you vulnerable to attacks. You must always remain vigilant in order to steer clear of security breaches.