How to protect your business from a catastrophic data breach?

Published March 5, 2019   |   

It seems that every so often, we are reading news headlines about massive data breaches and the impact they have on businesses and customers alike. Marriott, Yahoo, Experian, and so many other industry giants have fallen prey to these issues. In the age of big data being used to operate businesses in every sector, a data breach is something that can keep business owners up at night. However, operating without data leaves a business feeling blind.

A great example of an industry where data is massively important is the burgeoning sports gambling industry in the United States. Not only do these sportsbooks handle the private financial information of all of their consumers, but the data is also absolutely essential for these companies to set and alter odds, in response to the wagers placed by consumers, as well as managing the plethora of different ways customers have to bet on events. So how do you protect yourself and your business from the impact of a catastrophic data breach? Here are some crucial tips and tricks to keep your data as safe as possible.

Be diligent with your backups

Data is often backed up, for security purposes and this is a very wise practice. However, a significant number of breaches are often caused by fault backups or the loss of backup data. A great solution is to search for third-party backup services. Often, these companies utilize cloud and remote data that is less likely to be lost or stolen, adding a layer of security.

Keep all software up to date

Software developers are constantly trying to stay in front of any security issues, creating patches to keep the software as secure as possible. Unfortunately, a patch is only effective when it is applied in a timely manner. It may seem unnecessarily burdensome or time-consuming to keep all your programs up to date but it can close security loopholes that hackers know how to exploit. Don’t just stop at your operating system; make sure as many programs as possible are always patched with the latest updates.

Educate the end user

IT professionals may know all about the latest security issues but, chances are, most of the users of a business’s software aren’t IT employees. Having a comprehensive education program can keep the end users informed and able to spot and avoid potential security pitfalls. As threats evolve, so too should the information provided to all employees.

Continually “Test the Fence”

You may recall the classic scene from the original Jurassic Park movie where the velociraptors proved their intelligence by always testing their enclosure fence for weaknesses. You should always be doing the same with your data security protocols. If you are constantly probing your system, you have a decent probability of finding an issue before a malicious hacker does.

Moderate web traffic and prevent drive-by downloads

Sometimes malicious software isn’t specifically targeting your business but rather casting a wide net. Compromised websites can often use hidden downloads, referred to as drive-by downloads, to exploit your machine. This can be done by internal users on accident, simply by accessing a website. It may not be popular, but installing a blocker to prevent insiders from visiting suspicious websites could save you from a catastrophe down the road.

Monitor internal users as well as external

It may sound very “Big Brother,” but monitoring software should be employed so that HR or compliance employees can record the behavior of insiders on company hardware. This safeguard, as well as data loss prevention technology, can help protect your data from internal threats, as well as external ones.

Require encryption for employees

Sometimes a data breach is the result of crafty hacking. Other times, it can be started simply from the theft of a laptop from an employee. In fact, laptop theft has been a leading cause of massive data breaches. While you can’t stop all theft, having a company-wide encryption policy, especially for employee laptops can minimize the exposure you have in the event of such an event.

Utilize intruder detection and prevention software

It may sound simple but these protections should be on each and every crucial system in your business. Being able to detect when a possible breach has occurred can allow you to minimize the problem quickly and prevent it from happening again. The longer a breach goes undetected, the more damaging it can be.

Data is absolutely essential to modern business and making smart decisions. However, a data breach can be a crippling event, exposing customer data and losing customer confidence. Taking rational steps to prevent a breach can save your business a ton of heartache for the future. Small steps can make a big difference when it comes to data security.