Five Steps to Prevent Data Theft
The past few years have been a great success for hackers and cyber criminals, with US retailer Target and internet giant eBay just a few of the major corporations to have suffered from large-scale security breaches. In Target’s case, hackers were able to install software that targeted their payment points and copied the credit/debit card data from customers whenever they swiped their cards, resulting in more than 70 million people being affected.
This has led to Target spending more than $88 million in an effort to ramp up their security to hopefully prevent future breaches. Nonetheless, the damage has already been done, leading the company to pay millions more in legal fees and lawsuits, plus causing irreparable damage to their reputation. However, the one good thing to take from this and other similar cases is that is has highlighted a problem that all companies need to start taking seriously.
It seems that there are constantly new reports of similar security breaches making headlines around the globe, but there are luckily a number of steps you can take to prevent your company from becoming the next in a growing list of victims. No matter what field you’re in or the size of your company, it is vital that you begin to take data security seriously, so to give you a hand, here are five steps you should take:
- Identify Your Most Sensitive Data. The very first step you should take, even before you begin assessing your data security, is to pinpoint what is the most serious or sensitive data you are storing. Whether its information on your own finances or your client’s personal information, you need to first identify the areas that need most protected.
- Control Access to Data. After identifying your most sensitive data, you then need to make sure only authorized users are able to access it. It’s also a good idea to monitor this data to prevent unauthorized access, and of course, don’t forget to back up all of your sensitive data to prevent total loss or criminals demanding ransom should they find a way to steal it.
- Get Everyone Involved. Don’t limit your security measures to your IT professionals, and instead get all of your employees to help by providing training and information on how they can help protect sensitive data.
- Encrypt, Encrypt, Encrypt. Any and all sensitive data should always be encrypted, whether it’s located on hard drives, email, smartphones, or anywhere else. While encryption won’t do anything to keep it from being stolen, it will make it impossible to view should a breach occur.
- Be Wary of Third Parties. Even if your company has the best possible security, it doesn’t mean much if your information is stolen from a different company who you entrusted it to. Therefore, when dealing with outside organizations, be sure you know exactly what steps they take to protect your information and that they follow all relevant laws regarding privacy.