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3 Quick Tips for Preventing Data Breaches

Every business wants to avoid a data breach if possible.

Not only do data breaches cost money and interrupt operations, they negatively affect a company’s reputation, restricting future business opportunities.

There are a lot of complicated, and expensive, strategies for preventing data breaches out there, but not every business has the financial resources required to implement multiple security layers for their server stacks, add dedicated IT security teams, etc.
But, not every data breach prevention strategy has to be so extravagant. For example, here are 3 quick tips for preventing data breaches that almost any business can use:

Tip 1: Educate Employees to Handle Data Safely

Employee error is a leading cause of data breaches. According to a 2015 study by the Association of Corporate Counsel, 24% of all breaches are caused by employee error, but “fewer than half of in-house counsel reported that mandatory training exists at their companies. Even fewer say that their corporations track or test employee knowledge.”

Simply by creating some internal resources to raise employee awareness of how to safely handle data and establishing standard procedures for transmitting data within the organization, companies can significantly reduce one of their largest data breach risks.

Tip 2: Take Old, Unused Systems Completely Offline and Wipe Them

It’s all too easy to underestimate the threat posed by an obsolete piece of equipment. However, older, unused assets may still hold personally identifiable information of customers, or other sensitive information.

When a business upgrades its systems, ensuring the complete destruction of any data on the memory of the devices being taken out of circulation is a must. If an unencrypted copy of a database on an old hard drive were to make it into the wrong hands, the resulting breach could still be disastrous.

Controlling data on mobile devices used by employees for work is similarly important. As noted in the 2016 Verizon Data Breach Report, “Physical theft is a problem that we have seen time and again, and these incidents most commonly occur in the victim’s own work area (39%) or from the personal vehicle of the employee (33.9%). That said, these items are being lost far more often than they are being stolen.”

When devices such as laptops or smartphones loaded with sensitive data get lost or stolen, any data located on the device is at risk of being breached. Here, loading such devices with security software that can remotely wipe the drive in case it is lost or stolen can be very useful.

Tip 3: Always Revoke Employee Data Access Upon Termination

Disgruntled ex-employees can be a data breach nightmare. Even when the business relationship ends amicably, businesses should immediately revoke the employee’s access to sensitive business systems and databases.

A disgruntled employee with access to company computers and systems can bypass many of the security measures meant to thwart external attacks.

Whenever ending a worker’s employment, businesses should immediately revoke that employee’s access credentials to the business’ systems.

By doing so, the business can prevent the employee from being able to easily access sensitive documents and systems that they could then use to damage business operations.

Following these three tips for preventing data breaches is something that any business should be able to do. For more comprehensive data protection, please read some of our other resources.