4 ways to avoid a data breach in 2017

November 23, 2016 Data & System Recovery

As businesses become increasingly reliant on computer-based tools, more data than ever is being moved and stored through digital means. While this is certainly good news for productivity and efficiency, it has opened a new attack surface for criminals to exploit. 

Becoming the victim of a hack can be devastating for a company's reputation and can seriously alter profits. Sadly, the fact of the matter is that many organizations simply aren't taking the steps necessary to stay safe. In fact, a study from McAfee and Intel Security found that 82 percent of people in a survey stated their company was lacking cybersecurity talent

Keeping your customers' and business's data secure is of the utmost importance, and administrators should ensure that cybersecurity is a main concern for their company going into 2017. To that end, what can you do to help close up any security gaps in your current defenses?

1. Train employees about social engineering

When a hacker is trying to gain access to protected data, one of the most consistently successful techniques out there is social engineering. This is where the cybercriminal uses charm and wit to trick an employee into giving up sensitive information. 

A good example of this would be phishing. In such a scenario, the hacker would create an email that looks as though it's from a legitimate source, such as a bank or the head of HR. In this message, the cybercriminal asks the recipient to write in some kind of personal information like login credentials. If all goes according to plan, the nefarious individual will have quite a lot of time to complete his crime before anyone is the wiser. 

While this seems pretty basic, it turns out that less than 10 percent of U.S. companies are training employees how to spot these attacks, according to Social-Engineer's CEO Chris Hadnagy. Therefore, it's imperative that any administrator looking to improve defenses takes some time to educate workers on what they can do to defend themselves and the company. 

Of course, exactly what you teach will be dependent on your current industry security regulations and what kind of information you house. However, it's good to teach the importance of healthy skepticism. There's no guarantee that the person on the phone or at the end of an email is who they say they are, and demanding proof of identification can save you from an embarrassing hack. 

2. Update software consistently

Another key aspect of security that a lot of people miss is updating software. Many view these processes as annoying pop-ups that stop them from completing work, but the truth is that these fixes are some of the most critical cybersecurity features your system has to offer. 

When a company creates a piece of software, they almost always forget something. This isn't laziness. Rather, making software is incredibly difficult, and it's simply impossible to do it perfectly the first time. That said, a mistake can very easily create a vulnerability that a hacker could exploit to gain access to your data. 

To solve this issue, software companies send out updates on a pretty regular basis as they patch up each of these security holes. Staying current with your updates means you have as secure a system as possible. 

Cybersecurity is dependent on software patches. Updating software is a key part of robust cybersecurity.

3. Enact strict rules about login procedures

Once you've underscored the importance of updates to staff members, it's time to focus on one of the biggest security weak spots out there: login credentials.

"Employees very often don't create complex password."

Left to their own devices, employees very often don't create complex passwords that could work well to keep hackers away from sensitive data. The number of people who use "password123" as part of their login credentials is astounding, which is why it's vital that company leaders press employees to create pass phrases that are hard to crack. For reference, a good password has numbers, upper and lower case letters as well as at least one symbol. You should also aim to avoid words you can find in the dictionary, as hackers know how to brute force these. 

The other side to this is the creation of multi-factor authentication when logging into company systems. These systems basically force the user to provide at least two forms of identification before they can access protected material. A system that has someone type in a password and then sends them an email to confirm could be considered multi-factor authentication. It's simply another obstacle for the hacker to overcome, thereby making the hack even harder and hopefully incentivizing the individual to go somewhere else. 

4. Invest in secure data management services

The age of data management is becoming incredibly complex, and many organizations have decided to work with an outside partner for these services. There are many advantages to doing so, but this transaction is built on a foundation of trust. The data being processed is often incredibly sensitive, and it's important to choose a vendor that has a history of top-notch security. 

In doing so, you'll need to make sure your choice utilizes a robust encryption system. This technology effectively scrambles any and all data that you could ever want kept out of the hands of hackers. However, you'll also need to ensure that this information is encrypted both while it is laying dormant in storage and when it's in transit to the data management provider and vice versa. 

Thankfully, UbiStor can do this and more for clients. Our encryption system is designed to keep data secure when it's moving and when it's resting, which makes life much harder for the hacker trying to steal what's yours. On top of that, our interface system that allows you to access data and applications from any web browser is built to keep intruders out. 

Of course, improving your company's security is going to have to start with your everyday procedures. However, working with an outside vendor like UbiStor can help take the cybersecurity of your most important data to the next level.