Data Security: How to Keep Your Business Data Secure
Data Security: How to Keep Your Business Data Secure
As a business, you collect, create, use and store significant amounts of data daily. Depending on your industry and customers, some of your data may be public and other types private. Private data requires special consideration and storage to prevent unwanted access. Data security involves various tools, techniques and technologies to keep business data secure. From how your data is collected to where sensitive information is stored and who can access it, data security covers every aspect of your business’s data use.
Learn more about data security and potential threats as well as several tips for effective data security storage.
What Is Data Security?
Data security involves protecting digital data from unauthorized access and use. The process often involves implementing tools and technology to improve visibility into where your data is stored and how it’s used. Business-wide policies and procedures outline how the physical and logical security of data, hardware and software will be handled. Data security protects your business’s information from external threats like cybercriminals and internal threats like human error.
While your first thought may be to secure your business’s data, be sure to consider your customers’ privacy as well. Many customers have come to expect privacy for their data, including personally identifiable information (PII) like contact information and payment methods, electronic health records and more.
Some industries have strict protection regulations for how organizations use, store and protect consumer data. Even without the obligation of data privacy regulations, data security can keep your company in business and give your customers peace of mind.
Data Security Threats
As the volume of data that businesses and organizations create, use and store grows, so does the complexity of security threats. Without the proper tools and technology, secure data storage can be difficult to achieve because of the required monitoring and numerous potential threats. Understanding your business’s security threats can help you secure information more effectively. Most of these risks can be divided into two categories — internal and external.
Internal or insider threats involve individuals within your organization. Internal threats can be either intentional or accidental. Here are a few common ways insiders can cause security threats:
- Careless or untrained staff: Careless and untrained staff are often a cause of accidental security threats. They may not know how to handle data securely or don’t take your data security policies seriously enough. For example, these individuals may access data without authorization. While they don’t do anything malicious with the data, unauthorized access to sensitive data is one of the most common types of internal security breaches.
- Malicious employees: Some employees will access and use sensitive data with malicious intent. They may steal information for themselves or intentionally share or sell sensitive data or passwords to cause harm to others or your company. These threats may come from disgruntled or former employees, often seeking revenge.
- Human error: Though accidental, human error is one of the top causes of internal data security threats. New and veteran employees can make mistakes, subsequently exposing sensitive data. Mishandling or sharing sensitive information with the wrong person may seem like a small error, though these situations are still data security breaches.
External data security threats, or cyberattacks, are purely intentional. Hackers, organized crime groups, nation-states, terrorists and other cybercriminals are typically responsible for external threats, though any source outside of your organization can be an external risk. Here are a few common types of cyberattacks:
- Phishing: Social engineering attacks like phishing involve using fake communication to trick users into sharing private information and data. Phishing attacks have different forms — often deceptive emails or malicious links. Attackers try to trick you into sharing data like credit card information or account credentials to gain access to networks or devices.
- Malware: Attackers can send infected software known as malware that hijacks a device, program or entire network by targeting system vulnerabilities. Attackers use various types of malware, including ransomware, to infect your company’s system and access, steal and exploit your sensitive data.
- Denial of service (DoS): A DoS attack floods your company’s network to prevent it from responding to requests. These attacks essentially disable your network, leaving it exposed to additional threats.
- SQL injection (SQLi): Structured query language (SQL) servers are targets for SQL injections. SQLi attacks involve infecting your server with malicious code that releases sensitive data to the attacker.
Other external data security threats like natural disasters or power outages are out of your control and can result in significant data loss without the right precautions.
Types of Data Security
Businesses and organizations can use various types of data security practices, strategies, solutions and capabilities to create an effective, well-rounded data security plan. Depending on your needs, you may implement some of the following types of security solutions.
Storage and Backup
Recovering data after a security breach or cyberattack can be difficult, if not impossible. Maintaining backup copies of your sensitive data can help simplify recovery in these situations. Backup storage should be regularly tested to ensure functionality and subject to the same security measures as primary data storage.
Encryption involves scrambling text so it’s unreadable and can only be viewed after an authorized user enters the decryption key. Encryption is an effective data security technique because it prevents unauthorized users from exploiting your data. Even if a hacker stole encrypted data, they wouldn’t be able to immediately view and use it because they would first need to decrypt it.
If you utilize the cloud for business management or storage, cloud security is a necessity. Cloud security ensures data stored in and transferred to the cloud remains secure through methods such as limiting access to this data with established restrictions.
Access controls allow you to regulate who can access, edit or use sensitive data or resources in your network. These tools verify credentials and identification to ensure the individual or entity attempting to access sensitive data is who they claim to be and whether they are authorized to do so. Administrators can typically change access controls as your business’s needs change.
Data Loss Prevention
If sensitive data leaves your network for any reason, it can fall into the wrong hands. Data loss prevention helps control data transfer, ensuring it isn’t sent outside of your network. These tools monitor data in your network to identify sensitive information and prevent it from getting lost.
Data masking allows you to cover PII or other sensitive information so it can be used in developmental environments. This technique can be useful when training individuals how to handle sensitive data without exposing private information.
Principles for Data Security Storage
Storage is a significant aspect of data security. Data storage security involves the safety measures surrounding how and where your business stores sensitive data. Effective data storage security operates under three principles:
- Confidentiality: Secure data storage should ensure confidentiality. This concept involves preventing unauthorized individuals from using local or network access to expose data. For example, your data storage security system should limit who has access to confidential data.
- Availability: Availability refers to minimizing the risk of sensitive data being made inaccessible or destroyed while in storage so it’s still available for proper use. Your storage security protocol should help reduce these data loss risks from both deliberate attempts and accidents.
- Integrity: Your data storage should also help maintain the integrity of your sensitive information. Storage security should prevent data from being changed or tampered with, such as ensuring that only authorized users can make changes to sensitive information.
Data Security Best Practices
Data security requires thorough planning and organization-wide cooperation. To help ensure effective data storage and security, consider following these tips and best practices.
Implement Storage Security Policies
Implementing clear storage security policies creates a standard for your business and employees to adhere to. Without clearly defined policies and procedures, you leave room for mistakes, misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Your written data security policies should define the necessary security measures, procedures and tools for each type of data your business stores.
Properly Train Employees
Since many data breaches result from human error, your employees can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of your data’s security. Educate your team members about how important data security is, how to recognize cyberattacks and what they can do daily to keep data secure.
Ensure Entire Network Security
Storage security only applies to how your data is stored, meaning you need to back that security up with a strong network. Effective network security can help prevent cyberattackers from even reaching your data storage solutions. Keeping your entire network secure with tools like firewalls and intrusion detection programs is an effective way to ensure all corners of your business are covered.
Use Endpoint Security
Similarly, your business should use strong endpoint security. Endpoints include the computers and other devices that are used to access your data. Without proper protective measures for your endpoints, they can become weak areas in your business’s overall security approach. To improve your endpoint safety, you could implement practices like programming your computers to automatically log users out after a specified amount of time. Setting up this feature can prevent unwanted users from accessing data.
Utilize Managed IT Services
Depending on the size of your business, you may lack the resources or expertise to handle your data security and other IT needs in-house. Managed IT services are a common need for small to mid-sized businesses, and they can help ensure your data stays secure. For example, professional IT companies like Kirbtech can monitor your security and storage needs and provide the necessary expertise and support.
Keep Your Business Data Secure With Kirbtech
Kirbtech is a professional managed IT services provider that can benefit small to medium-sized businesses like yours. From full-service IT plans to storage and network security monitoring, we can handle all your IT needs or cover just a few areas.
Kirbtech can be an effective partner for your business, allowing you to maintain data security while also keeping up with daily operations. Contact us for a free consultation and site visit so we can help determine the right data security solutions for your company.