The average cost of a data breach to enterprises in 2018 is estimated to reach $1.23 million. Many organizations are seeing cyber threats as one of the major obstacles to growth. Any network can be attacked, even multiple times per day, by automated hacker software probing for vulnerabilities. It’s increasingly vital to design updated security measures into your information management system (IMS).

Preventive Measures

It’s no longer enough to install firewalls and antivirus software on internet servers. Many threats are internal, including from disgruntled or careless employees. BYOD (bring your own device) policies also create additional network exposure from any threats already hidden in personal devices.

Waiting for the worst to happen and planning for damage is a bad policy. Preventive measures must be in place. These should include employee training and strict BYOD policies. But the best step for ensuring that your data is safe is to start by bringing in a consultant to test your system for existing risks. The International Standards Organization has provided a set of specifications known as ISO 27001 for creating an ISMS (information security management system). When you start evaluations, look for an ISO 27001 consultant who is certified in these ISO procedures.

Documentation

Sharing knowledge across your organization is an important step. Your IT team should prepare documents that spell out policies, procedures, and protocols governing your IMS security. This can include responsibilities, best practices, necessary processing forms, diagrams and flowcharts, and chains of command for reporting issues. You should maintain both digital and hardcopy versions of these documents and update them as needed. It might also be wise to provide a shared knowledge directory where employees can find helpful resources and answers to FAQs.

Audits

Regular audits of network activity should also be performed. You will want to automate keeping detailed logs that track who accessed what resources, from both external and internal requests. This should also include application calls. File or server access permissions and changes to these permissions should also be monitored. You want to have a comprehensive overview of what’s happening throughout your network. This will help to establish baselines so anomalies or suspicious activities easier to identify. Ideally, audit programs should be capable of generating alerts and providing reports that are invaluable in investigating incidents.

Safe Data Storage

There should be additional levels of protection for the data itself. This begins with strong passwords and implementing the latest encryption techniques for all information, both in transit and in storage. Encryption ensures that anyone who does manage to steal your data will find it useless. Only a user computer in possession of the proper digital key can decrypt it. Effective data security also involves isolation of sensitive data like passwords, payment accounts, and customer information. These should be stored on separate machines and in separate tables, where access is granted on a need-to-know basis only.

Disaster Recovery

Threats to your data can include ransomware, denial of service attacks, or purely malicious destruction. No security measures will be 100 percent effective. Another critical step in data protection is having a disaster recovery plan. If your do lose essential information, the only way to recover it is by restoring data backups. A schedule of both full and incremental backups (data that has changed since the last backup) should be included. You data backup and restore systems should be tested periodically to ensure they’re working as planned. It’s also important to keep copies off-site, such as on the cloud or at remote locations, in case your data is lost due to local disasters like fire or storms.

Data is the most precious asset for any modern company. It’s usually your central repository for transaction histories, customer information, and intellectual property. If your IMS is not developed to secure your data, you’re in danger of losing your competitive advantage at every moment.

 

by: Mikkie Mills