What Is Data Theft? Data theft is the unauthorized access of sensitive information, often with the intention of using it …
The internet is a double-edged sword: on one hand, it has revolutionized the way we live and work, but on the other, it has created a significant risk of cybercrime.
The potential consequences of a data breach are severe, including financial loss, legal obligations, and reputational damage.
But, there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
You can prevent a data breach from happening to your business by having the right defensive strategies in place.
In this article, we’ll share nine tried-and-true ways to safeguard your data from cyber threats in 2024 and beyond.
How to Prevent a Data Breach
Due to the high cost associated with data breaches, it is crucial to allocate sufficient resources to implement proper defenses.
One straightforward yet impactful approach to prevent data breaches is to create obstacles that make it harder for hackers to steal sensitive data.
This approach can be divided into two key stages:
Stage 1: Prevent Network Compromise
#1. Train for Security Awareness
Employees are often the weakest link in the security chain, unintentionally causing network vulnerabilities by falling prey to phishing attacks, using weak passwords, or connecting to unsecured networks.
Cybercriminals use various tactics to trick employees into revealing private network credentials, including phishing and social engineering. To help your employees recognize and avoid falling victim to these attempts, it’s crucial to implement effective cyber awareness training.
Investing in robust training can be a proactive measure that protects your business from one of the leading causes of data breaches worldwide.
To maintain a strong focus on cybersecurity, it is essential to pair a comprehensive cyber awareness training program with robust technical controls that prevent human error.
This approach will help your employees identify and respond to phishing attempts effectively and enable your organization to mitigate potential cybersecurity risks.
#2. Detect Internal Vulnerabilities
Managing internal security vulnerabilities is essential to maintaining a secure network. The range of potential vulnerabilities is vast, from misconfigurations to 0-day exploits in the wild.
To uncover these threats, a combined effort of internal audits, such as pen tests and red team engagements, as well as risk assessments and security questionnaires, is necessary.
Security ratings provide an objective measurement of your organization’s security posture and enable you to track the impact of remediation efforts. Keeping your company’s security rating as high as possible is crucial to minimize network compromise risk.
An effective internal security strategy should also include commonly used security breach controls like firewalls, endpoint detection, and response solutions.
By incorporating security ratings as a high-level metric for tracking data breach susceptibility, you can proactively manage and mitigate internal security vulnerabilities.
#3. Manage Data Leaks
To prevent data leaks, it is crucial to identify potential sources of data leaks, such as endpoints and network devices. This includes identifying any unnecessary data storage and implementing access restrictions to sensitive information.
Data leak prevention requires a proactive approach that involves monitoring, detecting, and responding to data breaches. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools can be used to monitor and detect potential data leaks in real time.
Regularly reviewing and updating your organization’s data management policies and procedures is essential. Moreover, setting up clear communication channels with employees, coupled with security awareness training, can help mitigate the risks of data leaks.
#4. Manage Vendor Risk
Vendor relationships are essential for organizational success, however, third-party vendors also present a significant risk to an organization’s security.
This is where Vendor Risk Management (VRM) comes in.
VRM is a comprehensive process that aims to identify and reduce security risks from third-party vendors and service providers. This program addresses the unique security risks faced at each stage of a vendor relationship.
The onboarding stage is the first step in a VRM program, which combines risk assessment and security ratings to evaluate the security posture of prospective vendors.
The next VRM step is regulatory compliance. This involves mapping security questionnaire responses to popular cybersecurity frameworks, which helps to identify compliance gaps.
Continuous monitoring is another critical component of a VRM, where third-party attack surface monitoring detects emerging vendor security risks that could lead to third-party breaches.
Lastly, the termination stage involves bespoke risk assessments scrutinizing access levels to ensure that offboarded vendors no longer have access to sensitive resources.
Stage 2: Prevent Access to Personal Data
#1. Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a robust security measure that adds an additional layer of protection to prevent data breaches.
MFA requires users to provide two or more different types of authentication factors to verify their identity, making it harder for unauthorized individuals to gain access to sensitive information.
Passwordless Authentication is a resilient user authentication protocol that is commonly used in combination with MFA. With Passwordless Authentication, users are required to provide proof of their identity without entering a password.
The authentication process typically involves the submission of fingerprints or hardware token codes.
#2. Privileged Account Management
Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a comprehensive cybersecurity approach that regulates and protects privileged identities and activities across an enterprise’s IT environment.
This involves people, processes, and technology to supervise and audit all human and non-human privileged access.
By prioritizing PAM programs as a crucial part of their overall cybersecurity strategy, organizations can gain several benefits.
These benefits include reducing security risks and minimizing the cyber attack surface, streamlining operational costs and complexity, boosting visibility and situational awareness across the enterprise, and enhancing regulatory compliance.
#3. Zero-Trust Architecture
Zero-Trust is a cybersecurity architecture developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The framework assumes that all users are potential threats. However, once their identity is verified, they are granted access only to the specific resources they need, based on the principle of least privilege.
The principle of least privilege is a security concept that involves limiting access rights and permissions for users and applications to only what is necessary to perform their assigned tasks.
#4. Network Segmentation
Network segmentation is the practice of dividing a computer network into smaller subnetworks, referred to as segments or zones, to enhance security and manageability.
This enables network administrators to better control the flow of traffic between different segments, which in turn helps to limit the spread of malware and other cyber threats.
There are several methods for achieving segmentation, including physical separation of network devices, VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks), and software-defined networking.
The approach you choose will depend on the specific network and your organization’s goals.
In addition to enhancing security, network segmentation can also improve network performance and reduce complexity.
By focusing on individual segments rather than the entire network, administrators can monitor and manage network traffic more effectively.
#5. Data Encryption
Data encryption involves encryption algorithms that utilize complex mathematical calculations to convert the original data into an encrypted format. This format can only be deciphered with a unique key or password.
There are different types of encryption methods available, including symmetric key encryption, asymmetric key encryption, and hashing.
The type of encryption used depends on the data security requirements, the level of risk associated with the data, and the encryption algorithms that are supported by the applications and systems used to process the data.
5 Best Practices to Make Data Breach Prevention Easier
As our reliance on technology continues to grow, data breaches have become an inevitable reality that we must accept.
However, taking proactive steps and implementing good practices can reduce the risk of a breach significantly.
Let’s take a look at some of the best practices:
#1. Establish and Maintain Procedures
Maintaining up-to-date procedures related to data security standards can help clarify your company’s expectations regarding data and demonstrate your commitment to data security to your employees.
Implementing roles and permissions for accessing specific types of data can also help enhance security. Access should be granted based on a “need-to-know” basis, where employees are given access only to the data necessary for their job functions, regardless of their seniority.
#2. Remote Monitoring and Management
Remote monitoring and management (RMM), sometimes referred to as remote IT management, is a technology designed to assist IT administrators and managed service providers (MSPs) in overseeing PCs and various devices from a remote location.
This approach enables them to efficiently manage and monitor systems, ensuring optimal performance and security without the need for on-site presence.
Remote monitoring helps enhance IT security by providing automated checks on devices on a routine schedule. This eliminates the need for users to manage their own security updates.
#3. Backup and Data Recovery
It is likely that your sensitive or important data will be compromised, deleted, or otherwise made inaccessible when a breach occurs.
In such cases, having a reliable and up-to-date backup of the data can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major disaster.
However, it’s essential to note that backups may not be as effective against double extortion ransomware attacks, where cybercriminals not only encrypt the data but also leak or sell it if their demands aren’t met.
#4. Maintain Up-To-Date Security Software
Regularly updating security software is important, as it ensures that it has the latest security patches and can effectively protect you against the latest known threats.
Cybercriminals are constantly developing new methods to breach systems, which means that security software must be updated to stay ahead of these threats.
#5. Protect Portable Devices
Implementing strong passwords, installing anti-theft applications, and applying other security measures that limit access solely to authorized users can help you secure portable devices against theft or loss.
Devices such as flash drives, mobile phones, tablets, and other portable gadgets are especially susceptible to theft or misplacement.
5 Common Data Breach Causes
Understanding the root causes behind a data breach is critical for preventing one. To that end, it’s important to identify the primary reasons why data breaches occur.
Here are some of the major factors that lead to data breaches:
- Weak and Compromised User Credentials: Weak and stolen credentials are among the most common causes of data breaches. To mitigate the risk of weak and stolen credentials, companies should implement strong password policies that require users to create complex passwords and change them frequently.
- Social Engineering: Social engineering is a technique used by cybercriminals to manipulate and deceive people into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that may compromise security.
- Malware: Malware refers to any software designed to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems, networks, and data.
- Third-party Breaches: A third-party data breach happens when an unauthorized individual or a group of cyber attackers gains access to an organization’s sensitive data through a third-party vendor or partner.
- Physical Theft of Sensitive Devices: The theft of company devices can lead to security breaches and identity theft, resulting in data breaches.
The Importance of a Data Breach Response Plan
A data breach response plan is a critical component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for organizations and businesses alike.
Here’s how it can benefit your business:
- Faster Response Time: With a well-defined plan, your organization can respond to a data breach quickly, minimizing the damage caused by the breach.
- Clear Roles and Responsibilities: A response plan clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in the event of a data breach, ensuring that everyone knows what they need to do.
- Minimized Impact: By having a plan in place, your organization can minimize the impact of a data breach on your business operations, reputation, and financials.
- Compliance with Regulations: Many data protection regulations require organizations to have a data breach response plan in place, so having one means you’re complying with the necessary legal requirements.
- Improved Communication: A data breach response plan can outline clear communication procedures, ensuring that all stakeholders are informed and involved in the response process.
- Reduce Costs: A data breach can be costly, both in terms of fines and reputational damage. A response plan can help you minimize these costs by minimizing the impact of the breach.
- Reassurance for Stakeholders: Having a data breach response plan in place can reassure your customers, employees, and other stakeholders that you are prepared to respond to a breach and take appropriate action to protect their data.
Protect Your Business From Data Breach With Breachsense
Breachsense provides a comprehensive framework for protecting businesses from data breaches. By utilizing Breachsense’s platform, organizations can take proactive steps to defend against threats before they occur.
We offer real-time alerts and access to an extensive database of breached credentials, empowering businesses to enhance their security posture and prevent cyber attacks, account takeover fraud, and unauthorized purchases.
Learn more. Book a demo.