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SoftwareMedia Blog | July 31, 2014

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3 Ways To Prevent A Data Breach

3 Ways To Prevent A Data Breach

Businesses need to take a proactive approach to make sure that their sensitive data remains secure. While not all-inclusive, these three strategies are critical to maintaining a secure organization and ensuring data integrity. Implementing these proactive strategies provides a solid foundation for adequately limiting data vulnerabilities.

1. Employee Training

Employees don’t always consider or follow security procedures. It doesn’t always occur to non-technical employees that it may not be a good idea to write login credentials on a piece of paper and tape it to the underside of their keyboard. They may not understand that mobile devices are just as vulnerable to viruses as a laptop or desktop. They may think nothing of leaving their ID card in a car, not realizing the potential damages from a lost or stolen security pass or identification card.

Enterprises must think of employees as a potential vulnerability – not by disempowering them, but  by offering comprehensive training to educate staff on the importance of sound security practices and implementing strict security policies and procedures. Security training should be a part of initial employee orientation. That training should be reinforced by occasional workshops and seminars to keep employees up-to-date on current enterprise security measures.

Employees must also develop an understanding of how their everyday actions can lead to vulnerabilities. Information stored on a smart phone, tablet or laptop can be a potential source of information for hackers, and employees with a deep understanding of these risks are less likely to participate in risky behaviors. Employees should keep their mobile devices secure at all times and take steps to prevent theft. In fact, simply securing mobile devices reduces data theft instances by up to 80 percent.

Enterprises don’t have to merely rely on employee diligence to ensure security. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) security policies and mobile security software are options to help with containment in management. Security software often includes the ability to wipe a device clean if it is reported lost or stolen – eliminating access to sensitive business information.

2. Reporting Procedures

Enterprises must have strict reporting procedures in place in the event of lost or stolen devices, passwords, identification cards or security passes. Rapid reporting enables the enterprise to implement incident response protocols to minimize potential damages and reduce the likelihood of a full-on data breach.

Simply changing passwords and wiping drives on a tablet or laptop are not enough. Companies should conduct a software infrastructure and web application audit to ensure that unauthorized access hasn’t occurred – once a breach occurs in one area, it becomes easy for hackers to gain access to other areas of a company’s network by making changes at the permission level and other areas. A few simple changes is all it takes for a skilled hacker to create an access path for later use, so audits are critically important after any potential breach.

Instill the importance of rapid reporting in your staff. Some may be reluctant to come forward to report a lost or stolen device, fearing negative repercussions, so it’s critical to ensure they know that immediate reporting is necessary to prevent significant damages. While it’s frustrating when a careless mistake creates a vulnerability, the most important thing is preventing further damage. Avoid enacting harsh punishments for losses that are honest mistakes – and your staff will be more likely to report problems immediately.

3. Vigilance

It’s not sufficient to simply create some policies and sit back. Companies need to remain vigilant in terms of data security. Make sure that all third-party software and applications, like antivirus software, are kept up to date.  Keep abreast of any new vulnerabilities that are discovered in current third-party software the company utilizes. If IT needs to make changes to a website or software infrastructure, a security audit is necessary to ensure that the changes made do not leave a website or the company’s network vulnerable to security breaches.

These steps enable your staff – from upper-management to front-line employees – to work together as a cohesive unit, remain vigilant about security, and act in the best interests of the enterprise. It’s this team approach that fosters a secure organization and protects valuable proprietary data.

Fergal Glynn is the Director of Product Marketing at Veracode Data Breach Prevention Guide, an award-winning application security company specializing in VAST for third party application security, how to prevent a SQL injection and other security breaches with effective risk assessment tools.

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