When it comes to the world of technology, data breaches are nothing new. With virtually all businesses these days collecting and storing personal information about customers, employees, and more, the frequency of data breaches — the theft, loss, or mistaken release of private information — is on the rise. And it’s not just a big business problem. Small and mid-sized businesses with fewer data security resources are particularly vulnerable.
That’s why this year is a year of security focus, as companies look at ways to protect themselves from falling victim to cyberattacks and potential data breaches before they ever take place. Have no fear –Information Transport Solutions, Inc., a Uniti company, is here to help protect your valuable information. By having a plan in place that thwarts cyberthreats, you can protect your business from a data breach, keeping your data secure with the technological protocols of your company.
Here are our best tips and practices for preventing data breaches within your company’s space:
How to Prevent a Data Breach
Review What You Do (and Don’t) Need
Make it a point to routinely inventory the types and quantities of information in your company’s digital files and on your computers. Reduce the volume of information you collect and retain only what is necessary.
In most cases, there’s no real need to collect or keep information you don’t absolutely need (especially as time progresses). You should also take the inventory period to minimize the number of places you store personal and private data. Know what you keep and where you keep it.
The experts at ITS can help you along the way. Our highly trained team will analyze your company or establishment’s individual requirements and data applications to determine the absolute best infrastructure solution for your unique environment. We will then work with you to implement top of the line infrastructure solutions, briefing you on everything you need to get up and running more efficiently than ever before.
Safeguard Your Data Systems
- Keep your data secure by locking physical records containing private information in a secure location.
- Restrict access to that information to only those employees who must have access.
- Conduct employee background checks.
- Never give temporary workers or vendors access to personal information on employees or customers.
You should also limit your network outlets and access points. At ITS, one of our specialties focuses on local area network (LAN) security and networking capability. LAN networking allows a group of computers close in proximity, such as those in your office, school, or home to share a common communications line or wireless link to a server.
LANs are usually built to enable the sharing of resources like files, printers, games, applications, email, or internet under secure and protected networks only.
Always Destroy Prior to Disposal
Sensitive files should always be digitally destroyed before disposing of their private information. Also destroy CDs, DVDs, and other portable media. But keep in mind that deleting files or reformatting hard drives does not erase data. Instead, use software designed to permanently wipe the hard drive, or physically destroy the drive itself.
You should also remain mindful of certain hardware – such as photocopy machines – as many of these machines scan a document before copying. Change the settings to clear data after each use.
Keep Your Employees in the Know
Establish a written policy about privacy and data security and communicate it to all employees within your company.
- Educate your employees about what types of information are sensitive or confidential and what their responsibilities are to protect that data.
- Implement password protection and ‘time-out’ functions for all computers.
- Train employees to never leave laptops or PDAs unattended.
- Restrict telecommuting to company owned computers.
- Require the use of strong passwords that must be changed on a regular basis.
- Don’t store personal information on a computer connected to the Internet unless it is essential for conducting business.
Back it Up
Many breaches are caused by the theft or loss of data backup tapes. A remote data backup service will allow your company to use the Internet to back up safely and effectively without ever using tapes that can be lost or stolen.
Assess the Situation
Organizations should perform regular vulnerability assessments. Many companies still only perform vulnerability scans once a quarter. These should be done weekly. Today, you and your organization should perform vulnerability scans against every system in their network, both internal and external.
Put an End to Unencrypted Data Transmission
Mandate the encryption of all data transmissions. This includes data ‘at rest’ and ‘in motion’. Also consider encrypting email within your company if personal information is transmitted. Avoid using unknown or public Wi-Fi networks; they may permit interception of data.
Limit and Monitor Portable Media Outlets
Portable media, such as DVDs, CDs, and USB “flash drives” are more susceptible to loss or theft. This can also include smartphones, MP3 players, and other personal electronic devices with a hard drive that ‘syncs’ with a computer. Again, be sure only to allow encrypted data to be downloaded to portable storage devices.
Keep Software Systems Up-To-Date
Keep security patches for your computers up-to-date. Use firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spyware software; update virus/spyware definitions daily. Check regularly for any updates concerning vulnerabilities and associated patches.
Pair with an IT Pro
ITS is a full-service provider of technology solutions. We integrate voice, video, and data to make organizations more profitable and productive in a safe and secure way. We help organizations build the right infrastructure and implement technologies to build a safe environment, enhance administrative efficiency, and help our partners and clients thrive.
Would you like more information about the services we provide – about the solutions we offer to keep your company secure and to protect data breaches? If so, reach out to the IT pros at ITS today. We look forward to working with you!