Do you wonder if your small business is doing enough to protect your data? Are you worried about data security from hackers, insider threats, ransomware, and other threats to your data as your employees work remotely? Is your business compliant with data security regulations such as CCPA, HIPAA, etc.? ClickAway IT Services recommends you adopt these best practices to protect your data and your business from widespread security threats.
9 TIPS FOR HIGHER DATA SECURITY
- CREATE DATA CLASSIFICATION
Data classification consists of analyzing and organizing data into classes or categories based on file type, contents, and other metadata. The idea behind this classification is to understand exactly what data you have that someone else would want. The classification can tell you what data is sensitive, who creates that data and how frequently, where it is stored, and who can access it. This knowledge helps you in coming up with strategies for mitigating risk and managing data governance policies.
This data organization tip helps you identify if sensitive data is stored in unsecure locations as well as allows you to manage access. This reduces the risk of data loss or exposure to unauthorized parties. You can apply digital labels to data based on their classification and store them accordingly. This allows you to allocate your resources to protect data in accordance with its sensitivity and value to your small business.
- CREATE A DATA USAGE POLICY
A data usage policy sets access types, and privileges, and more importantly, what constitutes correct data usage. Your data usage policy will define the guidelines for the responsible, safe, and legal use of the company’s data resources. The data access policy should also clearly define the violations and associated consequences that all employees must read and understand.
- IMPLEMENT TECHNICAL ACCESS CONTROLS
Controlling who has access to your data is one of the most important steps in data security. Here are a few technical access control measures:
- Use an Access Control List of who has access, at what permission level, and to which resources.
- Do not allow users to copy or store data locally.
- When a user logs off or a session times out, ensure that the cache of both the client and server are cleared.
- Use encrypted RAM drives.
- Do not allow the use of portable storage devices.
- Implement conditions for account lockout in case of violations of usage policy or of questionable usage.
- Use Firewalls as a barrier and line of defense in data security.
- Use Network Access Controls to keep unauthorized devices and users out of private networks.
- IMPLEMENT PHYSICAL SECURITY CONTROLS
Physical security is often overlooked although it plays an important role in data security from theft, vandalism or physical attacks. Having tens of systems in place to prevent threats will amount to nothing if one can simply plug in a USB drive into your server hard drive.
- RESTRICT ACCESS TO CRITICAL DEVICES
It is critical to implement physical security measures that prevent unauthorized access to servers and critical network devices such as routers and switches. Even simple measures such as door locks, biometric access, and video surveillance can go a long way in preventing unauthorized physical access to devices and consequently to your data.
- ENSURE MOBILE DEVICE SECURITY
The need for greater mobility and flexibility has pushed an increasing number of businesses to adopt the use of mobile devices. However, along with the increased mobility, mobile devices also bring greater cybersecurity risks. The loss or theft of a mobile device such as a laptop or smartphone can expose your entire network and data to an attacker. In addition, the complexity of managing a large fleet of devices can often leave lapses and configuration errors that can ultimately lead to the exposure of data to unauthorized individuals.
- USE NETWORK SEGMENTATION
Breaking up your network into logical or functional units helps prepare your network for the worst-case scenario, i.e. if a hacker breaks into your network. So in case of a network intrusion, the damage will be limited to just one segment of your network.
You can configure your router or switch to create separate networks running on the same network hardware. Network segmentation is especially useful for data classification and data protection because it lets you assign different security policies, encryption, authentication, etc. to each of the network segments.
- RESTRICT ACCESS TO CRITICAL DEVICES
- PERFORM REGULAR DATA BACKUPS
Backup and recovery strategy is an integral part of data security. It goes without saying that critical business assets, i.e. data must be backed up to provide redundancy and to serve as a backup against system failures, corruption, accidental deletion, and against ramsonware attacks. A backup is simply a periodic copy of your data that can be retrieved if there is any problem with the original data.
- USE RAID ON YOUR SERVERS
RAID is a very useful tool that helps protect against system downtime and data destruction. RAID, which stands for redundant array of independent disks, allows servers to have multiple hard drives so that even if the main hard drive fails, the server will keep functioning. Each RAID level provides different levels of redundancy and performance.
- USE ENDPOINT SECURITY
Endpoint security is a defense at the place where it’s needed the most, i.e. those employees who do the stupid things that the IT security team tells them to avoid. To be honest, when employees are busy or preoccupied, it can be difficult to avoid clicking on dubious URLs, or opening attachments, especially since cyberattacks are becoming increasingly complex and difficult to stop. And that is why it is absolutely essential to have endpoint security on each device.
Endpoint security solutions secure the entry points of devices such as desktops, laptops, etc. from cybersecurity threats. Endpoint security tools started off as antivirus and have evolved into a tool that provides more comprehensive protection from sophisticated attacks such as malware, zero-day exploits, and more. By securing the entry points to your network, you limit the possibility of unauthorized access to your network and data.
- BE VIGILANT OF INSIDER THREATS
Insider threats are some of the most rapidly growing threats to data security. These threats are often overlooked because most of the time they may not be carried out maliciously. Negligent behaviors and errors, which are also insider threats, can result in a data breach or data destruction resulting in regulatory fines, loss of reputation, and loss of revenue. You need to put in place security systems that mitigate such unintentional as well as intentional insider threats.
Here are some examples of insider threats:
- Copying sensitive customer data to a removable storage media
- Theft of storage drives containing confidential data
- Clicking on links in phishing emails
- Errors in the configuration of network devices such as firewall, switch, etc.
- Forwarding confidential emails to unauthorized individuals
- Privilege misuse to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data
- SECURE YOUR NETWORK
Your network is the gateway to all of your enterprise data. Anyone with access to your network can practically gain access to all of your resources. At any given time, your network has many devices such as network equipment, computers, mobiles devices, and IoT devices. And all of these are connected to the internet, making them a hot target for hackers who know that once they gain access to a single device, they can infiltrate your network.
Therefore, you need to be very vigilant about network security. Your network security controls have to protect not just the integrity, confidentiality, and usability of your network but also of the data transmitted among its various components. By hardening your network you can limit the possibility of network intrusions and data breaches.
Data security has always had prime importance. However, lately, as more small businesses are leveraging remote work, the need to ensure data security has grown even greater. Effective data protection doesn’t reside only in the databases or servers but is present everywhere- from the server to the network to the end-users. It must be able to prevent data breaches altogether or at a minimum detect data leakages.
The data security best practices listed above will help you mitigate the common data security risks faced by most small businesses. However, you shouldn’t stop there. Changes in the technology landscape, regulatory requirements, internal processes, and business models will require you to update or overhaul your data protection systems from time to time. So make it a practice to regularly revisit your data security policies and update them as and when required.
Do you need help with creating or implementing data security practices in your small business? Ask for a free site evaluation from ClickAway and learn how we can help secure all your company data. ClickAway has been a opens in a new windowDiamond Certified IT Services and Computer Repair business in the Bay Area for the past 17 years.