Technology is evolving at an unbelievable pace. While this has increased efficiencies, business opportunities and exciting innovations, it has also opened the door to unprecedented risk. While organizations have evolved with the technology of the times, so too have criminals. No longer constrained by physical limitations, they can target anyone, anywhere in the world with the simple click of a button.
Data to a company is the new gold, so just like banks have protective safes, companies need those types of protective vaults and security practices, too.
From Healthcare Data Management to Financial Services – Nobody is Safe
What we do know is threat actors tend to target those with privileged access to sensitive data. Prominent cyber attacks over the years bear this out, with healthcare facilities, banks, and other financial institutions disproportionately targeted. Perhaps the best known of these was 2017’s WannaCry ransomware attack affecting organizations in over 150 countries. WannaCry targeted companies running older, unpatched versions of Windows, resulting in almost $4 billion in total damages.
Things haven’t slowed down since then, either. Cybercrime has jumped by 600% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 2022, 66% of small and medium sized businesses have experienced a cyber attack in the past 12 months alone. What’s more, experts predict that by 2023, cybercriminals will have exposed over 33 billion records to the world.
This is a serious problem, and it’s only going to get more expensive as time goes on. So, what can be done? Here are five ways organizations can ensure their enterprise data security.
1. Bolster IT Infrastructure
IT infrastructure broadly encompasses the technologies, hardware, software, and networking components involved in the operation of an enterprise’s information systems. This includes everything from data storage servers to email platforms used by employees.
As you can imagine, given its broad scope, IT infrastructure is a crucial part of any organization. It’s what allows businesses to store and share sensitive data, communicate with customers and clients, and carry out day-to-day operations.
Prime Target for Cybercriminals
Given the importance of IT infrastructure, it is essential organizations take the necessary steps to protect it. This means having a robust security system that detects and responds to threats in real time, quickly and efficiently.
Investing in solutions like secure email gateways, virtual private networks (VPNs) and other perimeter security while following DMARC protocols are a good place to start. By performing functions like encryption and network monitoring, these tools can make it much harder for cybercriminals to access sensitive data.
2. Administer Regular Audits
Like audits in the business world, cybersecurity audits are periodic evaluations of an organization’s security posture. Specifically, security audits are comprehensive assessments of a business or organization’s security policies, procedures, and technologies. They help identify and fix potential vulnerabilities before they become problems. They can also happen during after action reports to help determine what went wrong and prevent it from happening again.
To ensure enterprise data security, audits are a must. Yet many still don’t administer them on a regular basis. In fact, a recent study showed that 47% of small businesses have no understanding of how to protect themselves against cyber attacks, and many have no formal cybersecurity strategy in place.
Lack of Preparedness is Real in Data Protection
This lack of preparedness is a serious problem, as it leaves businesses vulnerable to attack. This is especially egregious for anyone in charge of healthcare data management or other sensitive customer data, as stolen records will likely end up sold on the Dark Web. Cybercriminals are always evolving and updating their methods – companies who don’t do the same for their defenses are at a serious disadvantage.
Regular audits help close this gap by ensuring that an organization’s security posture is up to date. They should occur at least annually, and more often if there are significant changes to the IT infrastructure or security posture.
3. Limit Data Access
Data is a company’s lifeblood. Because of that, data should be restricted to employees who “need to know” and nobody beyond that. The more data access, the higher likelihood threat actors will eventually find an opening. The more data an organization has, the more there is to lose in the event of a breach.
Limiting data access mitigates this risk, so organizations should be employing techniques like role-based access controls and data classification. Taking these measures makes it much harder for cybercriminals to get their hands on sensitive information. It’s also a mandatory step to ensure enterprise data security.
4. Remove Stale Information and Implement Secure Backups
For select industries like healthcare and financial services, data privacy and security are everything. In healthcare it can mean life or death. Organizations in these industries handle extremely sensitive information requiring them to adhere to strict regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States.
One of the most important aspects of data privacy is removing personally identifiable information (Pii) no longer needed. This includes things like old customer records, financial data, and employee files. Failing to do this leaves organizations open to attack, as cybercriminals can exploit stale information to gain access to sensitive systems.
It’s also crucial to do daily backups and have secure backups in place in case of a successful attack. This allows organizations to quickly restore their systems, minimizing any data breach impacts.
5. Adopt a Security Mindset
One of the most important ways to improve security is changing the way employees think about it. Most employees default to a “data security is somebody else’s job” frame of mind. Of course, this isn’t the case and everybody from the CEO to the mail room should undergo security awareness training to drive this point home. Data security is everyone’s responsibility.
For those with privileged access to sensitive data like compliance officers, the C-suite or healthcare data management professionals, additional, customized security training is in order.
The bottom line: Every employee should understand the risks and potential consequences of a data breach. Equally important, they should know what to do in case of an attack. Creating a culture of security will safeguard valuable data – not to mention jobs.
As the cyber threat landscape continues evolving, so must data security practices. Failure to do so leaves them vulnerable to attack with enormous consequences in both lost revenue and customer relationships. Taking the above steps will ensure enterprise data security for organizations of every type and size.
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