Cyber security is an increasingly important part of a growing number of industries. Whether you’re selling dish detergent or working for the government, chances are that you’re going to be handling sensitive data. This can be a complex process that requires special expertise – however, you don’t have to be an expert to take the basic steps necessary to protect sensitive data.
In fact, you may already be practicing a few of these steps on the devices that you use for your businesses every day. Every time you install a software update, design strong passwords, or lock your computer after using it, you’re practicing good IT security. Here are a few more helpful tips to protect you, your business, and your clients’ data.
1. Classify your data
You must understand what data needs to be protected and create a Data Classification Policy to classify data based on sensitivity. At a minimum three levels of data classification are needed:
Restricted: This is the most sensitive data that could cause great risk if compromised. Access is on a need-to-know basis only.
Confidential or Private: This is moderately sensitive data that would cause a moderate risk to the company if compromised. Access is internal to the company or department that owns the data.
Public: This is non-sensitive data that would cause little or no risk to the company if accessed. Access is loosely, or not, controlled.
2. Restrict access to your sensitive data
Not everyone in the company needs access to everything. By restricting what data each person has access to, you limit your exposure when an employee decides what they want to steal or when the employee’s account is compromised by an outsider.
The best way to build the Access Policy is to follow the principle of Least Privilege, which means you should give users the lowest level of access possible for them to get their work done.
3. Use encryption to protect data
Ensure all sensitive information that is being transferred or emailed is encrypted. Use encryption on all laptops, devices, and emails that contain sensitive data. It will help you a lot in case you are hacked – theft of your data is useless if all the sensitive data is off limits.
Note, that encryption is a very generic term and there are many ways to encrypt data. Companies need to implement and manage encryption correctly. The key to a good encryption strategy is using strong encryption and proper key management. Encrypt sensitive data before it is shared over untrusted networks.
4. Enforce data privacy controls inside and out
It’s important to understand businesses don’t act in a vacuum. Even if your business has an appropriate security system in place, third-party services that your business deals with on a daily basis might not. Therefore, not only you need to figure out how to secure your own system, you also need to make sure the companies you work with take security issues seriously.
Hold third parties and contractors your company engages to the same strict data privacy controls you implement in your own organization. Audit them periodically to ensure compliance with your security standards.
Even a security solution provider can be the source of threat. For example, It can easily steal your leads using the access credentials they should use to protect you. So, if you decided to trust your business to security vendor make sure it is reliable with the following criteria:
- Security Based on Robust Standards
The strength and dependability of any cybersecurity solution must be proven. The best security practices today are used in the payments industry and regulated by the most effective standard –PCI DSS (The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).
It’s important to understand that it is not obligatory for security companies to use PCI DSS practices. However, this is the most reliable standard at the present moment.
- Reliable Architecture
The term reliability refers to the ability of a software to consistently perform according to its specifications. Check your solution on how and where it stores your data; make sure that your data is always encrypted, stored in a secure place, and safely transferred within all stages of its movement.
- Encryption Key Access
If you must provide someone with access to sensitive data, be sure they will not use it to their advantage. Learn exactly who at your company’s cybersecurity provider will have access to your data and encryption keys for technical needs. If possible, make a strict policy on the access procedures. Remember: the more people who have access to your data, the more vulnerable your data is.
5. Install or enable a firewall
Even small companies with few employees have valuable data that needs to be protected. Connecting your naked PC to the Internet is like leaving your house unlocked–eventually, someone will wander in, rifle your underwear drawer, and empty the jewelry case.
To make your system’s points of entry more Net secure, install firewalls and set up a hardware-based firewall for backup. Ensure you have a firewall in place to keep outsiders from accessing your company network.
6. Track data
Tracking the motion of data within the organisational network will prevent any unintentional use of sensitive information.