As more and more people get on the internet and start sharing information, data breaches are becoming more common. In 2021, a report found that 45% of US companies suffered a data breach in the past year.
This is alarming news for any business owner trying to protect sensitive information from prying eyes. Are you worried about your sensitive data and wondering what you can do to secure business information? Keep reading to find out more about this cybersecurity issue.
What is Sensitive Information?
Sensitive data is confidential information that must be kept from the eyes of outsiders because its loss, misuse, modification, or unauthorized access could negatively impact an organization’s or individual’s welfare or security. Usually, organizations and individuals will use passwords and other means to protect their information from threats.
There are three different kinds of sensitive information:
- Personal information like social security number, home address info, etc
- Business information like patent information, new product strategy, and more
- Government classified information
The problem is that too many folks are complacent about data loss, thinking they are safe because they use a strong password. Cybercriminals are becoming quite savvy about accessing sensitive information, despite strong passwords. So you need to do a lot more than this to protect sensitive information.
How to Protect Sensitive Information?
A lot of sensitive data is lost due to the following issues:
- Lost or stolen equipment
- Weak passwords
- Lost or stolen credentials
- Social engineering attacks
- Targeted attacks
- Data encryption deficiencies
- Partner vulnerabilities
The way to fill in security gaps is by taking care of each of these vulnerable spots one by one. Having your employees change their passwords every six months is not enough. They need regular training to know what not to do to lose sensitive information to exploitative forces.
Layers upon layers of security must also be added to ensure that you are ready to face hacking attempts when they happen (as they will).
Who is a Target?
Unfortunately, too many business owners believe they are safe from cyberattacks. You might wrongly believe that only enterprise businesses and big brands are vulnerable to data breaches, but that’s not the case.
Everyone is vulnerable to sensitive information loss, no matter how big their organization is. You probably process tons of sensitive information about your customers daily, like credit card information, phone numbers, customer addresses, and more. All that information is vulnerable to threat.
Every week, you hear of some company that wasn’t careful enough with their customer information and came under fire in the media for losing valuable customer data. Not only is a data breach a terrible hit against your sales, but your reputation among customers will also suffer. It could take months or years to recover from such a downfall.
What Steps to Take if Your Sensitive Information Has Been Exploited?
The problem is that cyber attackers are constantly coming up with new ways to bypass your defenses. That is what they do best.
That’s why it’s important not to sit on your laurels once you have done one security update. Being safe in this world from cyberattacks means constantly taking action to protect your company’s sensitive information from hackers.
Nowadays, employees have begun working from home more frequently, and on top of that, they freely use their personal devices to access sensitive business data. These two points make businesses more vulnerable than ever to losing valuable information.
There are certain things you can do to protect yourself.
Have a Solid Strategy for BYOD
The minute your employees start taking your sensitive information off-site into their homes, cafes, and abroad while travelling, they become most vulnerable to attacks. You don’t want to start micromanaging your employees because that won’t be conducive to boosting productivity.
But you can build a strategy on how BYOD (bring your own devices) will work in your company. Also, remote work will need to have a security strategy wrapped around it.
Implement Policies about Digitized Files
Going paperless is great for the environment. But is it good for your sensitive information? If you are going to digitize all your sensitive data, have policies on how this will take place.
Think about how the digitized files will be stored and where on your network. Also, have strict delineations on who can access these digitized files and who can alter and delete these files.
Educate Your Employees
According to Proofpoint’s 2022 Human Factor report, 55% of employees admitted to taking a risky action, like clicking an email link that led to a suspicious website or not knowing what phishing is.
Humans are definitely the weakest link when it comes to compromising your IT security. That’s why your employees need to be constantly trained and educated on the latest cybersecurity threats.
Assess Risks From All Sources Regularly
Just like cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new ways to access your sensitive information, the same applies to you as well. You need to constantly be accessing your security network and strategies to identify holes and fill in those gaps as soon as possible.
You can’t sit still for even a second in a world where information is king, and everyone wants a piece of your information, legally or illegally.
Set Controls on Who Can Access Sensitive Information
These are some considerations for setting effective controls on sensitive data:
- What data is collected from all sources, customers, employees, partners, etc.?
- What data is collected internally?
- Set levels of sensitivity for all data collected
- Figure out who needs access to the data and don’t give access to those who don’t need it
It might create extra work for your security team if you have one or for your employees. But all this red tape will ensure that no unscrupulous person gets access to your sensitive data to do with it as they will.
Decide How Long Data Needs to Get Stored
In this fast-paced world, data doesn’t need to get stored forever. You will have to figure out how long you need to store data and then have measures in place to delete stored data appropriately. This way, you are not leaving yourself vulnerable to attacks due to old unused data.
You won’t have to worry too much about public data like company brochures, press releases, and employees’ first and last names (and bios on LinkedIn). But everything else, like internal data, classified data, and other more sensitive data, needs to get guarded with care.
Know Your Data
Do you know what kind of data your company deals with daily? There are probably hundreds of pieces of data that come through your employees’ devices and through your IT network.
There’s no way you can keep an eye on each piece of data yourself, nor can your cybersecurity team do so if you have one. That’s why you need to have security infrastructure in place that will keep an eye on your data for you, even when you are not around.
Through processes and technology in place, this monumental task of protecting your sensitive information can get simplified and efficiently executed without unencumbering your employees’ workflow.
Hire a Security Company to Protect You From Data Loss
Feeling overwhelmed and fearful at the thought of your sensitive data getting breached by someone who wants to take advantage of it is normal. Many business owners believe they aren’t vulnerable or have done enough when they do a few security updates, which leaves them in danger of losing sensitive data. If you cannot keep your sensitive information safe from the threat, you should hire a security company to take care of this for you.
There is a level of expertise and knowledge required to protect sensitive information, and it can be the difference between your company going bankrupt because it lost valuable customer information and customer trust or staying in business for a long time.
Schedule Your IT Assessment Today to Ensure Your Sensitive Information is Safe
Each business and industry has to look at security and sensitive data protection in a different manner. If you need help figuring out where to begin, contact us today, The IT and cybersecurity experts at Edge Networks have years of experience behind them.
We will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your overall IT infrastructure to determine where the gaps lie and where you are vulnerable to data loss, so we can help protect sensitive information. We will even perform real-time cyberattacks to assess your IT network and identify immediate vulnerabilities.
Schedule an assessment today, and our experts will be in touch with you.