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February 20th, 2020

Keeping Your Data Secure in 2020: 6 Tips


Like it or not, data has become the lifeblood of the modern economy. For individuals, poor security can lead to identity theft, financial exploitation or misplacing priceless photos and documents.

In business, the stakes — including liability and compliance concerns — are even higher. The following tips should provide a solid foundation for professionals, IT specialists, developers and others who want to rest easier at night.

1. Have a Third-Party Conduct an Audit

No shame comes with asking for help — especially for an issue as complex as cybersecurity and keeping data secure. A third-party security testing service can:

  • Conduct a full-scope risk and liability assessment
  • Identify access control oversights and in-house data risks
  • Compare current approaches to emerging standards
  • Address shortcomings in partners’ and vendors’ digital practices

It’s common for businesses to lack the in-house knowledge and resources to address their blind spots. Outsourcing to a firm dedicated to leadership knowledge in cybersecurity goes a long way.

2. Bring Machine Learning Into the Mix

Machine learning has practically become indispensable in the fight against data thieves and cybercriminals. The frequency and severity of breaches today, especially in large companies, is too massive to deal with manually.

In 2018, a single company, Marriott, discovered unauthorized access to 383 million customer records. The scale of modern data theft efforts means we need far more efficient ways to perform access control in real-time. Machine learning and adaptive behavior modeling provide protections for precisely these types of threats.

Adaptive behavior modeling learns overtime to tell legitimate users on your network apart from bad actors. It’s able to quickly identify questionable activities, such as an unknown party accessing unauthorized files. As a result, companies can launch investigations in just minutes instead of days.

3. Establish Clear Expectations for Clients and Employees

Company culture can be one of the most potent weapons in the fight against data thieves. How can IT specialists and business professionals get started?

  • You can take a few steps when it comes to establishing best practices:
  • Instruct clients not to transmit financial documents or sensitive information over email or other unsecured channels.
  • If files must exchange hands, ensure they’re encrypted first and then use a secure cloud service.
  • Employees should use strong passwords and know how to identify phishing attempts. Include this information in training.
  • Anyone who uses digital tools or connected infrastructure, such as IoT devices or PC workstations, should know to apply patches and updates.
  • Consider Outside Security Awareness Training

4. Consider Outside Security Awareness Training

For any business that’s part of a larger supply chain, the risk of weaknesses in the cyber-security-blanket is high. Plus, for any organization without the time or resources to put together their own training materials and exercises, it could make good sense to ask for help.

Many companies don’t feel confident about going it alone anymore. Recent research indicates the market for cybersecurity training will reach $10 billion by 2027. For companies that don’t want to risk a fragmented approach across their supply chains, using a third party might be a good idea for getting

5. Lock Down Your Physical Security

Cybercriminals can find plenty of ways to brute force their way into databases from a distance. Given the nature of the threat landscape, it’s easy to forget about the more tangible elements in cybersecurity policy.

To start, it’s essential not to let sensitive on-premises go unprotected. Networking equipment and server closets should not be accessible to anyone except trained and authorized personnel.

Additionally, computers, hard drives, and other data storage devices should not leave the relative safety of the home base unless they’re going straight to their destination — such as another company for repair.

A recent example involved Facebook, which can’t go a whole week without hemorrhaging user data. News broke in late 2019 that thieves stole hard drives containing payroll records on 29,000 Facebook employees — from an employee’s car.

To keep data secure for any mobile devices containing sensitive data, ensure any available “Find My Device” feature is enabled and check that you can remotely wipe the machine — laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc. — should it go missing.

6. Include Two-Factor Authentication in Your Products

Physical security extends to two-factor authentication, too, as it requires the user to have access to a second device before they can log in to the app or digital property. Using this feature adds a few seconds to daily workflows, but the result is a far stronger defense against hackers.

Anyone building an app, overseeing user accounts or managing company properties can and should prioritize 2FA during development or implementation. If you’re using third-party tools, ensure 2FA is available, that it’s enabled and that employees have received coaching on how to use it.

How to Keep Your Data Secure in 2020

With these data protection essentials, it’s possible to keep our companies’ and organizations’ data secure. Staying safe is a team effort, so each one of us must play our parts conscientiously and consistently.

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